John McCain And Abortion: Did He Hint At GOP shift?

Perhaps the Republican pendulum is swinging back.

Two years ago, it seemed for a time that Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona might be swept away in the tea party tide, forcing him to tack far to the right to fend off a primary challenge. On Sunday, however, Senator McCain took a clear and controversial step back toward the political center, suggesting on Fox News that it was not his place to tell a woman whether or not it is her right to have an abortion.

Such sentiments come straight from the playbook of some Republican operatives, who say the November election showed that the party needs a makeover to expand its base of support beyond white males.

"The GOP cannot continue to engage in fire-and-brimstone rhetoric with respect to social issues," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell told the Monitor's Husna Haq. "The GOP mantra for the past decade has generally been, 'Our way or the highway.'... And while the GOP is primarily a pro-life, traditional-marriage party, it can maintain those positions and win in a national election, but it has to acknowledge that not everyone may agree with those positions."

Mr. O'Connell and others are urging the party to focus on the economy and national security, which they say are the party's strengths. Not surprisingly, McCain put his abortion comments in this context, first saying the party had to be about something positive, and then adding that one reason to leave abortion alone was the importance of the "economic situation and, frankly, national security situation."

Read more from Mark Sappenfield at The Christian Science Monitor

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