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Biden plans to make abortion rights a key part of his reelection fight, campaign manager says

<i>The White House</i><br/>President Joe Biden will lean into protecting abortion rights on the 2024 campaign trail
The White House
President Joe Biden will lean into protecting abortion rights on the 2024 campaign trail

By Nikki Carvajal

(CNN) — President Joe Biden will lean into protecting abortion rights on the 2024 campaign trail, his campaign manager, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, told CNN Thursday in her first live television interview.

The strategy encapsulates the sharp evolution Biden has made on abortion rights, which has been a charged issue for a president who has witnessed up close the changing politics of abortion over the half-century span of his career. Long one of the Democratic Party’s most moderate voices on abortion, Biden has reckoned with personal qualms rooted in his Catholic faith.

However, he has changed his view on the issue over the years and has called for codifying Roe v. Wade, which had guaranteed a federal constitutional right to abortion, since the 2020 campaign. He has also supported repealing the Hyde Amendment, which blocks using federal funds for abortions, after years of voting in favor of the amendment.

Chavez Rodriguez told Dana Bash on CNN’s “Inside Politics” that Biden will continue to focus on “efforts that are helping motivate and mobilize voters right now” – like abortion access – as the president looks toward reelection.

“We’re encouraged by what we’re seeing in Ohio, and it’s yet another data point based on what we’ve seen really across the country … that abortion is a potent issue,” she said, speaking on “Inside Politics.” “It’s an issue that is top of mind for many voters across this country.”

Abortion rights were one of the primary motivators for Democratic voters during the 2022 midterms, helping the party hold on to the US Senate and perform better in many other races around the country than anticipated.

That motivation appears to still be going strong into the 2024 election cycle. Earlier this week, Ohio voters rejected an effort to raise the threshold to amend the state’s constitution ahead of a November referendum on whether to constitutionally guarantee abortion rights there, handing abortion rights advocates a critical victory.

Chavez Rodriguez called the focus on abortion rights “an indication of the fundamental freedoms that folks want to continue to protect.”

“When President Biden and Vice President Harris relaunched our campaign, it was really focused on that of protecting the fundamental freedoms that we as Americans have really enjoyed throughout our lifetime,” she said.

Asked if Biden, who in the past has been uncomfortable talking about the issue, would be fully engaged on the topic, she said the president had been “really forthright and understanding that Roe got it right.”

“Throughout my lifetime [we] have been afforded that right, and it’s something that needs to be restored,” Chavez Rodriguez said. “When he and Vice President Harris are reelected it’s something that we will continue to ensure, that Roe is codified in this country.”

Pressed on if Biden would, “lean in” to the issue, Chavez Rodriguez responded: “Yeah, we’ve seen it as a core motivating factor for our coalition of voters in our base of support.”

After the Supreme Court decision last year eliminating the nationwide constitutional right to an abortion, the administration has worked to secure women’s access to abortion, including with an executive order.

The months after that decision also saw Vice President Kamala Harris become the administration’s foremost voice on reproductive rights, both in public events and behind the scenes in hours of policy discussions and internal White House deliberations. She led intense efforts to marshal outside allies, many of whom were staggered by the ruling itself – and pressing the Biden administration to do more in response.

Asked about other issues on the ballot that could potentially help the president, she said the campaign would “keep an eye on some of the critical efforts that are happening in – especially in our key battleground states and see what are efforts that are helping motivate and mobilize voters right now and to ensure that they get to the polls.”

Asked about polling showing most Democrats want a candidate other than Biden, Chavez Rodriguez said the campaign was “not taking anything in any vote for granted this election cycle.”

“We’re excited that we have built an incredible sort of early start for our campaign, the enthusiasm that we’re seeing from a broad coalition of supporters … we’re really excited to see that,” she said. “At the end of the day we know that that’s in stark contrast to the kind of extreme agenda we’re continuing to see from MAGA Republicans throughout the Republican field.”

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