DES MOINES, Iowa — Mike Murphy helped Terry Branstad (Iowa), Jeb Bush (Florida) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (California) become governors. He’s worked for dozens of Republican candidates running for Congress and governor, along with five presidential candidates. He is one of the most recognized national Republican campaign strategists. He is concerned that Republican focus in some states, including Iowa, to nearly eliminate abortions will hurt his party in the future.
“There’s a general rule of be careful of wedge issues that enflame younger voters,” Murphy told WHO 13 at Simpson College Tuesday.
Hours earlier, the Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the injunction that blocked Iowa’s 2018 fetal heartbeat law from taking effect. The law would have prevented most abortions at around six weeks of conception, approximately the time that doctors say they can usually detect a heartbeat.
“We’re in a new era,” Murphy said, “For the first time in a generation, the court is taking away rights people thought they had.”
Murphy said that when the U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned the Roe V. Wade decision that had guaranteed a legal right to an abortion for half a century, it pushed the abortion rights issue to greater prominence. Some Republican-led states, including Iowa, have used the opportunity to further restrict abortion rights. “Abortion has become a huge issue, particularly among younger voters and suburban voters,” Murphy said.
He thinks that Republicans are restricting abortion more than most Americans want. ‘We’re on the wrong side of winning,” Murphy said. “The question is how much blood do we leave on the floor and how many liberal Democrats do we elect on this stuff?”
Murphy came to Iowa to deliver the twelfth annual Culver Lecture at Simpson College, as part of the yearly tribute to the late John Culver, a former U.S. senator from Cedar Rapids.