Democrats go on offense over abortion rights and more: The Note

The party sees some areas of agreement as places to press electoral advantages.

September 7, 2022, 6:00 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

It's a day where a past partnership will be showcased at the White House -- at a time when that work could inform new messaging for the Democratic Party.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will welcome former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday for the Obamas' official portrait unveiling. While both Obamas and both Bidens are expected to speak, advisers say it's not likely to be a moment for full-on campaign mode for any of them.

But Democrats aren't wasting post-Labor Day time before going on the offense for the midterms: defending democratic institutions, selling legislative accomplishments and underlining their positions on issues including abortion rights and gay marriage.

On Tuesday alone, Beto O'Rourke launched a new campaign ad against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott featuring Abbott's recent comments on abortion, while Charlie Crist outlined a new statewide tour targeting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on the same issue.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee previously announced TV ads in Nevada showcasing GOP candidate Blake Masters' statements on abortion (which he has since downplayed). Similarly themed DSCC ads are already up in Arizona and Wisconsin, to name just a few states where abortion rights are front and center as fall campaigning begins.

Meanwhile, in the Senate itself, Democratic leaders are considering attaching a measure codifying a right to same-sex and interracial marriage as part of a must-pass government funding measure this month, ABC News' Trish Turner reports.

It remains unclear whether enough Republicans support the marriage legislation to overcome a filibuster -- and combining it with another package carries significant risk, if it threatens a government shutdown. But it does put incumbent senators from states including Florida and Wisconsin in a pre-election bind.

Both issues have complicated histories when it comes to Biden and Obama -- and, especially around gay marriage, the Obama-Biden relationship itself. Unity displayed at the White House on Wednesday won't be the only story, but Democrats see some areas of broad agreement as places to press electoral advantages.

In this April 5, 2022, file photo, former President Barack Obama and President Joe Biden shake hands during an event to mark the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, D.C.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, FILE

The RUNDOWN with Alisa Wiersema

Three days after rallying with former President Donald Trump, Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz held a press conference alongside retiring Sen. Pat Toomey -- a fellow party member who voted in favor of impeaching Trump following the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Despite those optics, Oz stood in contrast with Toomey by saying he would not have voted to convict Trump on his impeachment charge of inciting an insurrection, ABC News' Will McDuffie reports.

"I think the president was already leaving office by then," said Oz, who is endorsed by Trump.

However, Oz appeared to break with Trump's pattern of false election denial by telling reporters he would not have objected to certifying the 2020 election had he been a senator at the time.

Asked if he would vote for Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano -- who attended the Jan. 6 rally preceding the Capitol riots and has been vocal about denying the last election -- Oz said he is "endorsing the full Republican slate." Toomey hedged on the same question, saying he has "a limit to how many candidates I support."

The delicate political approach to addressing the fallout of 2020 among Republicans is likely to continue. In the meantime, according to Oz, he and Mastriano do not have any campaign events scheduled together in the near future.

The press conference by the two Republicans aimed to pressure Oz's Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, to agree to a debate in the hotly contested political battleground. The event also featured Toomey casting doubt on Fetterman's ability to serve in the Senate amid his stroke recovery. Medical experts have said that a person's speech patterns following a stroke are not indicative of their cognitive ability.

Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz holds a press conference with Sen. Pat Toomey on Sept. 6, 2022, in Philadelphia.
Mark Makela/Getty Images

The TIP with Hannah Demissie

It's another win for Trumpy candidates.

Former state Rep. Geoff Diehl defeated businessman Chris Doughty in the Massachusetts GOP gubernatorial primary last night.

Diehl, who has the support of former President Donald Trump, has cast doubts on the 2020 election and supported the overturning of Roe v. Wade. During his primary campaign, Diehl said he would champion infrastructure, expand housing options and support law enforcement if elected governor.

After primaries in Illinois and Maryland, Diehl's primary victory in Massachusetts is the latest example of Trump-like candidates seeking to win the governorship in a deeply blue state. But the path to victory won't be easy for Diehl.

Even though Massachusetts has a long history of electing GOP governors as a way to check the Democratically controlled legislature, these governors have usually been moderate politicians -- something Diehl is not.

FiveThirtyEight's Governor Forecast model rates the race as solidly Democrat.

Diehl will now face off against the Democratic nominee for governor, Attorney General Maura Healey, who is heavily favored to win in November. If elected, Healey would be Massachusetts' first elected female governor and openly gay governor.

In this May 21, 2022, file photo, candidate for Governor Chris Doughty speaks during the the 2022 Republican State Convention in Springfield, Mass.
Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

7. That's the number of percentage points, on average, that separate Georgia's Senate and gubernatorial contests. In other words, Gov. Brian Kemp leads by about 5 points in FiveThirtyEight's 2022 polling average while Sen. Raphael Warnock leads by just 2 points — a 7-point gap. Read more from FiveThirtyEight's Geoffrey Skelley on why this kind of gap is unusual and what is driving it.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. "Start Here" begins Wednesday morning with a look at the unrelenting heat wave on the West Coast. ABC's Ginger Zee explains the impact of the record-breaking temperatures. Then ABC's James Longman discusses the challenges ahead for the next U.K. prime minister, Liz Truss. And ABC's Aaron Katersky reports on the massive settlement made by e-cigarette company Juul over its marketing to teenagers.


Donald Trump first introduced unsubstantiated election fraud conspiracy claims into the political mainstream during the 2016 campaign before making them the focus of his final months in the White House and the two years since, inspiring a slew of candidates and supporters who believe the same. It's an alarming trend, according to some election experts and historians who warn, if left unabated, it could weaken -- or in the extreme -- dismantle American democracy. The ABC News series "Democracy in Peril," which rolls out this week, is examining questions and concerns about America's democratic institutions at all levels in the wake of Jan. 6.


  • President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden host former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama for the unveiling of their official White House portraits at 1:30 p.m. ET
  • White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre holds a briefing at 2:45 p.m. ET.
  • Chelsea and Hillary Clinton appear on "The View" to promote their new Apple TV+ series, "Gutsy."
  • Virginia's Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin is in Maine in support of the state's former Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who is running again.

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The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back Thursday for the latest.

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