Prior to Tuesday’s special election, Republicans pilloried Pennsylvania Democrat Conor Lamb for his support for abortion rights. In late February, the Republican National Committee noted his opposition to a 20-week abortion ban and called him “drastically out of touch with values of southwest Pennsylvania.”
Lamb now appears to have defeated Republican Rick Saccone to fill a U.S. House seat vacated by abortion-rights-opponent Rep. Tim Murphy (R), who resigned after it was reported that he had urged a woman with whom he’d had an extramarital relationship to have an abortion.
On Wednesday morning, the RNC and its supporters reversed course and seized on a false talking point that Lamb’s victory was unusual because he was “pro-life” and basically ran as a Republican.
Republicans yesterday: "Conor Lamb is a Pelosi liberal. His values aren't our values."
Republicans today: "Conor Lamb only won because he's basically a Republican." pic.twitter.com/RONQthFAHi
— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) March 14, 2018
Lamb has said that his Catholic faith teaches him that abortion is wrong, but that he supports the right of women to make the decision for themselves. In the RNC’s own February release, it quotes his comment opposing a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy: “I’d have voted against it.” Then clarified: “I just want to say, I don’t use the term ‘pro-life’ to describe what I personally believe, because that’s a political term. It’s not one that you learn in Catholic school or anywhere else in the church.” The anti-abortion rights Susan B. Anthony List urged voters to back Saccone because “Liberal Conor Lamb will side with Nancy Pelosi and pro-abortion extremists,” and “supports taxpayer-funded abortions… even late-term abortions when science shows unborn children can feel excruciating pain.”
But desperate to explain away the Democrat’s narrow lead in a district carried by Donald Trump by about 20 points in 2016, leading Republicans have done a 180′ and now are acting as if they believe that position makes Lamb “pro-life.”
RNC spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News on Wednesday morning that “Conor Lamb ran as a Republican… He said he was personally pro-life. He was a Republican in name, but I can promise you he will vote like a Democrat in Congress.”
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) told reporters that the result was not a “big surprise” because both candidates “ran as a pro-life anti-Nancy Pelosi conservative.”
Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade tweeted (incorrectly) that “Connor [sic] Lamb” won because he “claims to be pro-life, pro tax cut.”
Dem. Connor Lamb’s great showing in red district shows dems the way to Nov. success..Support Republican issues!! He claims to be pro-life, pro tax cut, pro tarriff and anti Pelosi..not good new for Senators Sanders & Warren. We will discuss on @foxandfriends
— Brian Kilmeade (@kilmeade) March 14, 2018
And Fox News contributor and former GOP staffer Marc Thiessen he “claims to be pro-life. He said during the campaign that life begins at conception. Though, if you dig deeper at his views, he wouldn’t support restrictions on that. But it’s enough, possibly, to convince people in a very Catholic, working class, pro-life district he agrees with them. It would not be surprising if he’s able to run because he’s running essentially as a Republican in a Republican district.”