On Sunday, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders spoke at the “Our Rights, Our Courts” forum in Concord, New Hampshire, where he was asked about his views on Democrats who don’t share his opinion on abortion.
Sanders acknowledged that some of his Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate would not call themselves pro-choice, but said that being pro-choice was “an absolutely essential” part of being a Democrat.
“By this time in history, I think, when we talk about what a Democrat is, I think being pro-choice is an essential part of that.”
Sanders’ rival for the nomination, Pete Buttigieg, answered a similar question last week at a Fox News Town Hall with a little more elasticity, saying he knew that not all Democrats were pro-choice and he hoped they could find other areas of agreement. “I am pro-choice and I believe that a woman ought to be able to make that decision,” Buttigieg told the woman who asked the question, who said she was a pro-life Democrat. “But I know that the difference of opinion you and I have is one that we have come by honestly.”
Sanders and Buttigieg head into New Hampshire neck-and-neck, representing competing visions for the future of their party. Paradoxically, the older Sanders has captured the imagination of the progressive wing of the left, while Buttigieg is more appealing to the center.
While the question of abortion is popularly cited as a deal-breaker for Christian voters, polling trends suggest the question isn’t quite the litmus test some believe it is. American Christians are far more likely to list terrorism, immigration and health care as their top priorities for 2020, with abortion falling much further down the list.