Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has seen his approval rating fall among conservatives in the wake of his push to reform U.S. immigration policy, and so it is not surprising that he, out of all 46 Republican senators, will sponsor a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks. With the potential 2016 presidential candidate in charge of guiding the measure through the Senate, it's guaranteed to get "enormous media attention and thus more national visibility for the issue of limiting late term abortions," The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes writes. And it could help Rubio win back conservative hearts and minds.
Update: After the Weekly Standard scoop was posted, an anonymous Rubio aide made it sound like he wasn't totally sold on the bill. "I can tell you that the pro-life groups are asking Senator Rubio to sponsor the bill in the Senate. He's on a family vacation this week and will decide when he returns to D.C. next week," the aide told CNN.
Rubio's name was booed at a Tea Party rally in Washington, D.C. last month. A June 19 Quinnipiac poll found that Florida voters disapprove of the way Rubio's handling immigration reform by 41 percent to 33 percent. A recent Washington Post/ ABC News poll found Rubio's "strongly favorable" ratings among Republicans has dropped 11 points since August. Barnes writes, "His front-and-center role on a key anti-abortion measure is likely to ease concerns about him among GOP voters." It will be interesting to see whether conservative voters will be OK with citizenship for 11 million immigrants if they get some potential restrictions on the 1.2 million abortions each year.
Having Rubio in charge of the bill helps the GOP, too. Republicans have paid close attention to putting the right public face on the abortion bill. Last month, the House passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. It was introduced by Rep. Trent Franks, who claimed rapes rarely result in pregnancy. Republicans then put Rep. Marsha Blackburn in charge of managing the bill. The bill is not likely to become law, because Democrats control the Senate and President Obama has threatened to veto it. "But win or lose," Barnes writes, "Republicans and the leaders of the pro-life movement regard the 20-week ban as an especially favorable issue for their cause – and one that might strengthen GOP candidates in the 2014 midterm election."