Take someone like Christian nationalist, forced birther, and Jan. 6 enthusiast Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, the GOP gubernatorial nominee in the Keystone State. During an April primary debate, Mastriano declared abortion "the number one issue" for him. And shortly after the Supreme Court decision eviscerating Roe v. Wade leaked in early May, Mastriano declared he wanted to end abortion in the state, "period,” no exceptions. In fact, Mastriano celebrated the impending decision by releasing a statement saying there had been "no more important issue to me than the right to life" since being elected to the state senate.
But by the time the ruling was officially handed down in late June, the economy had moved up considerably on Mastriano's list of priorities.
"While this decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is a triumph for innocent life, it must not take our focus away from the key issues facing Pennsylvania families," read Mastriano's statement on the ruling.
Rather than abortion being issue number one for Mastriano, he asserted that people "care deeply" about the cost of gas and groceries, crime, and well-paying jobs, promising to "prioritize these issues as their governor."
But Mastriano isn’t an anomaly. As CNN notes, several extremist GOP candidates have also had an economic epiphany.
In Nevada, GOP Senate nominee Adam Laxalt went from calling the constitutional right to an abortion "a total, complete invention" weeks before the Dobbs decision landed to declaring statewide access to abortion "settled law" after the high court struck down Roe.
Also before the Dobbs ruling, Ohio GOP Senate nominee J.D. Vance said the case “gives us an opportunity to live up [to] our founding creed – that all of us are truly created equal.” But after the decision came down, Vance decided fulfilling that “founding creed” wasn't all that urgent.
“Not right now," Vance said of passing a federal ban in the Senate. "I think right now we need to let the states figure this stuff out."
The fervent hope here among GOP hopefuls is obvious: Talk of nothing but the economy and maybe voters will forget all that stuff about living up to “the founding creed” by outlawing abortion nationwide.
It all goes along with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's scheme of trying to paper over a radicalized Republican Party overrun by extremists ahead of the midterms.
At the same time, Republican operatives are betting that massive amnesia overtakes half the populace.
GOP strategist John Thomas, for instance, acknowledged that the fight for abortion rights could "breathe life" into Democrats’ electoral prospects this cycle, but he added, “I don’t think this is the dominant issue as we’re going into November."
Because losing a constitutional right might sting for a month or two, but, by November, no biggie in the gospel according to GOP male operatives.