GOP Senate Candidates Mum On Birth Control Mandate Change

Republican Senate candidates are staying silent on President Obama's latest changes to the birth control coverage mandate, even as the policy catches flak from the religious right.  

Top GOP hopefuls haven’t weighed in on the issue since Friday, when the administration announced new measures meant to accommodate religious groups and businesses owners who object to their insurance covering birth control. 

Republican Senate candidates failed to jump on the announcement that day, and a dozen campaigns reached individually this week all declined to comment. 

The lack of response reveals would-be GOP senators' extreme caution as they approach the birth control debate at this point in the election cycle. 

While lawmakers in safe seats freely expressed their disappointment alongside outside groups, GOP candidates involved in tough races have, so far, declined to join the debate. 

Republican consultants said candidates would be foolish to risk comments that could alienate female voters at this stage of the campaign with Democrats so ready to pounce on the “war on women” message.

"There is no need to draw attention to an issue that is so down in the weeds, so deep in the minutiae, that could spoil an entire Senate campaign," said GOP strategist Ford O'Connell. 

"Republicans recognize ... that they shouldn't be discussing birth control right now, unless they can be on offense," O'Connell said.  

While a handful of would-be senators, such as Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.). have talked up policies like over-the-counter birth control, most are loathe to engage too deeply in the debate. 

GOP candidates "recognize the trap," said O'Connell. "Democrats are looking for any opportunity to mobilize women, and they know how to make one candidate's comment play in every race." 

Read more from Elise Viebeck at The Hill

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