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There Will Be an Abortion Shootout Tomorrow in Iowa

The abortion wars are heating up in Iowa. Last month, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R-IA) signed a bill that would ban almost all abortions after 6 weeks of pregnancy. Many women don't even know they are pregnant at that point, and when they find out, it is too late. Until she signed the bill, abortion was allowed up to 22 weeks. A state court has temporarily blocked the new law until it can hold a hearing on the merits of the case.

Tomorrow is the Republican Party's annual Lincoln Dinner. Lincoln isn't invited (and probably would not come even if invited, first because he's dead, and second because he would not recognize the current Republican Party as his own). But 13 Republican POTUS wannabes are going to show up and talk about how great it is that Iowa has banned nearly all abortions. Tickets range from $1,500 to $10,000 for a table of 10. At the top level, you and your friends get to go to a reception to meet the candidates. The poor folks with $1,500 tickets just get the rubber chicken and have to sit in the back of the room. If you are going, there are 26 categories of objects that you may not bring, ranging from e-cigarettes to toasters. If you don't like it, too bad; the Second Amendment says nothing about your right to bear toasters.

This is not the first and will not be the last cattle call this year, but every Republican candidate understands it is free publicity in the first state to hold a nominating event, so off they go. Of course, each one will say he or she opposes abortion, so there is no difference among them and it kind of cancels out. Still, when you gotta go, you gotta go.

For some reason, Chris Christie is the only candidate who won't be there. Perhaps it is because while he is anti-abortion, he opposes a national abortion ban, preferring all the states to do it themselves. As a former state governor, maybe he likes the idea of giving the states more power. He hasn't explained. More likely, though, he is consciously avoiding Iowa and simply not competing there because Iowa Republicans are heavily evangelical and he is not their cup of tea. Then when he comes in 14th in the caucuses he can yell: "I never set foot in the state and didn't spend a nickel there. WTF did you expect?" He is betting the farm on doing well in New Hampshire, which is a far more secular state than Iowa, and closer to New Jersey, where he is well known.

In Iowa, 28% of all adults are evangelicals. This means well over 50% of Republican caucusgoers are evangelicals. In New Hampshire, only 13% of all adults are evangelicals. Also, by concentrating on only one state, Christie can basically move there and spend far more time there campaigning than candidates who are dividing their time between Iowa and New Hampshire. To make it more complicated, there are no nonstop commercial flights from Des Moines to Manchester, NH. You have to change planes somewhere. There aren't even any nonstops from Des Moines to Boston. The fastest commercial route from Des Moines to Manchester requires a change of planes in D.C. and takes 5 hours. Throw in an hour to get to or from the airport at each end, and a trip takes 7+ hours. That's a wasted day. Of course, the billionaire candidates can charter a private plane, but there are only a couple of them and the only one of those who is at all competitive is Donald Trump.

Kamala Harris took note of the anti-abortionfest and is going to hold a counter-event in Iowa tomorrow at Grand View University, a 100-year-old private liberal arts school in Des Moines. On the "About" page on its website, Grand View lists "diversity" as the third item, after "About GV" and "community and visitors." The 8-member diversity team has listed 12 demographic categories of students that are welcome there.

Harris has been ramping up her remarks on reproductive rights of late and will certainly focus on them tomorrow. Now that it is campaign season, she is going to take over the role of attack dog from Commander, Joe Biden's dog, who has bitten or attacked Secret Services officers ten times since March. It has not been reported how many officers Harris has bitten this year, but it is probably fewer than ten. The idea of Harris' event is to have the news media do a kind of "split-screen" presentation, with Republican after Republican denouncing abortion and praising the new law while Harris denounces the Republicans and makes it clear she and her (sorta) boss strongly support reproductive rights. The intention, of course, is to get the national media there and make it a national story about the two views. Normally, a vice presidential visit to a small college in a small state wouldn't be newsworthy, but the juxtaposition with the Republican event only 3 miles south of the university turns it into national news on a topic that strongly favors the Democrats. (V)

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