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Lamont quickly airs TV ad on abortion, a topic GOP hopes will fade

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LAMONT COMMERCIAL
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Scenes from a bill signing and a new campaign commercial, "Never Back Down."

The reelection campaign of Gov. Ned Lamont leaned in Monday to the post-Roe v. Wade world of American politics with a 30-second televised message to women underlining the Democratic governor’s unqualified support for abortion rights.

“This is not a political choice, it’s your choice,” Lamont says into a camera. “Women deserve the right to make their own decisions about their health care, and about when they want to start a family. That’s why we enacted the strongest protections for a woman’s right to choose in the country.”

The commercial is an early, if relatively low-key, effort to draw a sharp contrast between Lamont and his Republican opponent, Bob Stefanowski, on reproductive rights and the new law making Connecticut a “safe harbor” for abortion providers and patients.

Stefanowski and his refusal to state if he would have signed the new law go unmentioned, as were details of the measure Connecticut adopted in response to a Texas law empowering citizens to sue anyone involved in abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy.

The new law, among other things, restricts how health care records could be accessed by plaintiffs in those so-called civil “bounty” cases, and it would give the targets a legal right in Connecticut to recover legal costs.

Titled “Never Back Down,” the commercial includes footage of Lamont’s ceremonial signing of the law outside the state Capitol. It ends with him looking into the camera and saying, “I’ve never backed down when it comes to choice, and I never will.”

It is only the opening salvo by Lamont, who enjoyed a 24-percentage point lead among women in a Quinnipiac University poll last month, to establish himself as the stronger defender of the tenets of Roe, the law of the land for nearly a half century until the U.S. Supreme Court overturned it in a decision Friday.

A CBS poll released Sunday found 59% of all Americans and 67% of women disapprove of the decision, with solid majorities viewing the ruling as a harbinger of future decisions limiting access to birth control and the right to same-sex marriage.

More Democrats than Republicans said the Roe decision will make them more likely to vote.

The CBS poll is an indication that, at least in the short term, the ways in which the Supreme Court’s conservative majority might reshape American life is an unwelcome distraction for Republicans like Stefanowski who have tried to keep voters tightly focused on inflation and record-high gasoline prices.

“Economic issues are always going to outweigh abortion for a lot of voters,” Celinda Lake, a national Democratic strategist, told The New York Times. “But it’s very, very important for Democrats — to win these swing voters — to make this a choice, not a referendum.”

Lake said abortion “is going to be a major factor in that, because it is a very clear distinction.”

On Twitter, Stefanowski and other Republicans tried to blur that distinction by dismissing the impact of the court’s Roe ruling in Connecticut, where a law passed 32 years ago guarantees a right to access to abortion.

“I will continue to support Connecticut’s state law, which has codified a woman’s right to choose, with an appropriate ban on late-term abortion,” Stefanowski said in a tweet Friday before returning to his daily countdown until July 1, when the state’s tax on diesel fuel is scheduled to rise 9.1 cents to 49.2 cents per gallon.

Stefanowski supports requiring a parental notification for minors under 16 to obtain an abortion. Lamont supports the current law, which requires counseling for minors seeking an abortion, including a suggestion that they consult with a parent or family member.

Lamont’s commercial was produced over the weekend and opens with snippets of three news anchors giving the news Friday that “the Supreme Court has reached a decision … bottom line, Roe v. Wade is overruled … up to about half the states, they are expected soon to make it illegal.”

The governor’s portion already had been recorded, anticipating a decision telegraphed more than a month ago when Politico published a draft of the opinion.

While quick to the air with a commercial on Roe v. Wade, the Lamont campaign is not discontinuing a spot focusing on tax cuts and other relief to consumers. Inflation and discontent with a Democratic White House remain potent issues in the midterm elections.

As the CBS poll found, only 19% of Americans think things are going well.

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