In Saturday night’s ABC News debate New Jersey Governor Chris Christie blasted freshman Florida Senator Marco Rubio for being over-reliant on scripted talking points.
Rubio was flustered by the attack, but got back on track and was able to deliver an effective defense of his position on abortion–which more moderate governors like Jeb Bush and Chris Christie have been hitting the freshman senator for not believing in exceptions in cases of rape, incest, or life of the mother.
For Republican consultants, that exception is crucial for winning a campaign for president, but Rubio’s message has broken that rule by emphasizing the value of life in every case.
Christie began his answer on abortion strong by pointing out that he successfully defunded Planned Parenthood in his state for six years, reminding voters that Hillary Clinton supported the organization that tries to “maximize the value of their body parts for sale on the open market.”
But he added his defense of an exception for abortions in the case of rape–adding a moral defense of the idea.
“The fact is, that I believe that if a woman has been raped, that is a birth and a pregnancy that she should be able to terminate,” he said. “If she is the victim of incest — this is not a woman’s choice. This is a woman being violated.”
Christie’s comments failed to point out, as pro-life activists believe, that human life is sacred in all cases. His moral argument suggested that a woman was being “violated” with a baby–much like candidate Barack Obama suggested in his election that he did not want his daughter “punished with a baby.”
“We have always believed, as has Ronald Reagan, that we have self-defense for women who have been raped and impregnated because of it, or the subject of incest and been impregnated for it,” Christie said. “That woman should not have to deliver that child if they believe that violation is now an act of self-defense by terminating that pregnancy.”
Rubio responded that he would sign an abortion ban with exceptions as president because it would be good for the cause. However, he maintained his position that all human life was precious.
“I do believe deeply that all human life is worthy of the protection of laws,” Rubio said. “I’ve already said, for me, the issue of life is not a political issue and I want to be frank. I would rather lose an election than be wrong on the issue of life.”
Rubio’s answer shows the virtues of being scripted–you never make a critical mistake on stage even if you look like a robot. Christie’s mistake was that he was not scripted, and stumbled on a key issue that single issue pro-life voters care about.