Are Democrats nearing civil war over healthcare reform?
Two major left-leaning activist groups are threatening to work against Democrats who vote against a public option or for abortion restrictions in healthcare reform legislation.
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Abortion-rights advocates say they’re not concerned about intraparty conflict when fundamental principles are on the line – even if their goal is to defeat Democrats, whose party platform supports abortion rights. For now, groups like NARAL have the luxury of a large Democratic majority in the House – 258 Democrats vs. 177 Republicans – so they can go after opponents of abortion rights without posing a major threat to the Democratic majority.Skip to next paragraph
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“It’s a twofold thing,” says Elizabeth Shipp, political director for NARAL. “Do I care if we lose the majority? Yes. Do I think we’re going to lose the majority? No.”
The Senate is trickier territory. The Democrats’ 60 to 40 majority gives the party just enough votes to break a filibuster, if all Democrats vote with their caucus.
MoveOn opens its war chest
But for now, the focus is on the House. The MoveOn ads will start airing Thursday against seven Democrats who voted no on healthcare: Reps. Mike Ross of Arkansas, Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania, Rick Boucher of Virginia, Larry Kissell of North Carolina, Heath Shuler of North Carolina, and Lee Terry of Nebraska.
MoveOn is also organizing more than 100 “thank you” events Thursday and Friday in districts of members who voted yes.
A spokeswoman for MoveOn.org Political Action, Ilyse Hogue, denies that the organization is promoting a split in the Democratic Party over healthcare reform by running ads against some members.
And there’s no comparison to the GOP’s woes, she says. “We’ve got a shrinking Republican Party that is catering to the more extreme wing of its base,” Ms. Hogue says. “What we’re seeing in the Democratic Party is actually a vibrant debate about a solution to the healthcare crisis that is very popular.”
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