WOMEN

California Gov. Says Abortion Rights Shouldn't Be A 'Litmus Test' For Democrats

Jerry Brown wants "a party that rises above the more particular issues to... the general issue of making America great."

08/07/2017 11:26 EDT | Updated 08/07/2017 14:09 EDT

California Governor Jerry Brown discussed the Democratic party’s shifting views on abortion in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press” on Sunday

Brown told NBC’s Chuck Todd that a Democratic candidate’s views on abortion should not be used as a “litmus test.” Instead, the litmus test should be the candidate’s intellect and how they treat “the common man.”

“The litmus test should be intelligence, caring about, as Harry Truman or Roosevelt used to call it, the common man,” Brown, a Democrat,  told Todd. “We’re not going to get everybody on board. And I’m sorry but running in San Francisco is not like running in Tulare County or Modoc, California, much less Mobile, Alabama.”

Brown added that the Democratic Party needs to rise above “particular issues” (like a woman’s right to have autonomy over her own body) in order to make “America great.”

“If we want to be a governing party of a very diverse — and I say diverse ideologically as well as ethnically — country, well, then you have to have a party that rises above the more particular issues to the generic,” Brown said. “The general issue of making America great.”

Last week, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) angered many progressive when he pledged to support anti-choice democratic candidates. 

Luján said that the DCCC needs to focus on getting more Democrats in office, even if the candidate has an anti-choice agenda. 

“There is not a litmus test for Democratic candidates,” Luján told The Hill. “As we look at candidates across the country, you need to make sure you have candidates that fit the district, that can win in these districts across America.”

In response to Luján's comment, Leila McDowell, a spokesperson for Emily’s List (a political organization that aims to help elect pro-choice Democratic female candidates to office), told The Hill that reproductive choice is at the center of Democratic politics. 

“At the core of the Democratic Party is our commitment to a better economic future for the working people of our country. Reproductive choice is fundamental to our platform. One of the most important financial decisions a woman makes is when and how to start a family,” McDowell said. “Democrats don’t need to choose between coal miners in Ohio, nurses in Georgia, or home healthcare workers in Arizona. This isn’t a choice Democrats need to make. It’s a coalition we need to win.” 

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