Capuano: Pro-life has place at Dems’ table
Democrats have to embrace pro-life voters and candidates, according to U.S. Rep. Michael E. Capuano (D-Somerville), who says former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is “crazy” to threaten withholding support to the party’s congressional campaign committee if it backs anti-abortion candidates.
“That’s crazy, that’s crazy, that’s nuts,” Capuano said on Herald Radio’s “Morning Meeting” program when asked about Dean’s comment.
“Look, I am as pro-choice as anybody,” Capuano said, “but that’s very emotional, hard to debate. But at the same time I stand up and respect anybody who says they are pro-life.”
Dean tweeted earlier this week, “I’m afraid I’ll be withholding support for the DCCC if this is true,” in reference to comments by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman, U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, that the organization will not require the Democratic Party’s candidates to be pro-choice.
“There is not a litmus test for Democratic candidates,” Lujan said. “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.”
Dean, a former Democratic presidential candidate and ex-chairman of the Democratic National Committee, walked back his tweet in a subsequent email to The Hill, saying there are “degrees of pro life” and that he doesn’t want to contribute to any candidates who “oppose all abortion rights.”
Capuano said he would “respectfully disagree” if Dean feels there is no room for pro-life candidates in the party.
“I don’t agree with them and some of them may hate me,” the Somerville Democrat said, referring to anti-abortion pols. “That’s their right, that’s their prerogative, it doesn’t change my opinion on the matter. But being a Democrat or a Republican has never been a one-issue matter and, if it is, I would probably be kicked out myself.”
“Democrats should be welcoming to anyone who shares our general values,” he added, noting an anti-abortion Democrat might have more trouble being elected in the Northeast as opposed to the South.
“If I found someone I agree with on every other issue — I would support that person. I may disagree with them on that (abortion rights), I do disagree with them on that, but look, I have 1,000 things on the agenda that are critically important, and we need to move forward.”
Capuano said he could not think of one issue that would be a “full-blown litmus test” for a candidate.
“I always think the Democratic Party is and should be a broad tent,” he said, “that welcomes people from all political issues.”
The party has a pro-choice platform, but Democratic Party leaders, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), have said they oppose disqualifying candidates over their positions on certain issues.
The party is ramping up for a pitched battle for Congress in 2018, with both the House and the Senate — as well as the presidency — in Republican hands.