John Fetterman, a Democratic Senate candidate in the critical swing state of Pennsylvania, is certainly not playing it safe on abortion.
The candidate took the stage at a Women for Fetterman rally in Blue Bell, Pa., on Sunday with Planned Parenthood president Alexis McGill Johnson, to reiterate that restoring federal reproductive rights would be his priority as a U.S. senator. “Women are the reason we will win,” he said said at the rally, noting that his first move as senator would be to vote to scrap the filibuster and codify Roe v. Wade.
He added of the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe: “Don’t piss women off.”
Fetterman’s Republican opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz, has said abortion at all stages is murder. “Should this decision be left up to Doctor Oz? Or a woman and a real doctor?” Fetterman asked rally-goers.
Fetterman is currently leading Oz in the polls—even in formerly conservative areas of the state that former President Donald Trump won—which has local papers suggesting the abortion issue is actually motivating conservative and independent women to switch sides.
Of course, the polls may also just be reflecting the fact that Oz is a comically terrible, out-of-touch candidate. He has said it’s OK to have sex with your second cousin, lied about the fact that he owns 10 houses, posted a video of himself buying “crudités,” makes fat jokes about stroke victims, and has a long history of creepy sexual commentary about women. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) recently acknowledged that if Republicans fail to take control of the Senate this fall, it will be due to “candidate quality”—a comment broadly interpreted as a dig at Oz, among others.
Republicans are flailing looking for ways to hit back at Fetterman, an objectively strong, locally beloved candidate who’s served in Pennsylvania politics for well over a decade. Donald Trump Jr.’s only tweet on Sunday was this desperate take on Fetterman’s support for criminal justice reform:
Bottom line: Fetterman is right to be vocal and decisive on the issue of abortion rather than hiding from it in a high-stakes election that will determine which party controls the Senate. The GOP’s long crusade against abortion rights, culminating in the Supreme Court decision in June, is now backfiring on them on abortion becomes a top issue motivating voters to the polls this election cycle. Whether or not abortion ends up being the issue that determines the Senate race in Pennsylvania, Democrats everywhere should take notes.