Last month, Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told The Hill that the organization will not withhold funding for pro-life Democratic House candidates in 2018. The announcement sparked an internal debate within the Democratic Party about whether or not it should welcome candidates who oppose abortion.
Host Chuck Todd noted that Democratic lawmakers such as New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand have argued that abortion should be a litmus test for the party, while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have argued that it should not be.
“How do you square those two?” Todd asked. “How do you tell the Democratic base, 'You've got to learn to compromise?'"
Brown replied, “Well, first of all, I don't know who this Democratic base is.”
“It's shifting,” Brown said. “The segments of our party are highly differentiated. There are environmentalists; there are gun owners; there are pro-choice people; there are religious fundamentalists, not very many, but they're there.”
Brown said that on the issue of abortion, “it wasn't very long ago that a number of Catholic Democrats were opposed to abortion.
“So the fact that somebody believes today what most people believed 50 years ago should not be the basis for their exclusion,” he said. “We are big tent by the very definition.
“America is not one place. Alabama is not San Francisco or California,” Brown said. “We have to rise above some of our most cherished ideological inclinations and find a common basis.
“You can't let these hot-button issues that work great in particular congressional districts one way or the other to be the guiding light for a national party that covers a very wide spectrum of belief,” he said.
Todd pressed Brown: “So you don't believe there should be a litmus test on abortion? Or is there an issue there should be one on, for the Democrats?”
Brown replied that the party’s litmus test “should be intelligence” or caring about “the common man.”
“We're not going to get everybody on board,” he said. “And I'm sorry, but running in San Francisco is not like running in Tulare County or Modoc, California, much less Mobile, Alabama.”
“If we want to be a governing party of a very diverse — and I say diverse ideologically as well as ethnically — country, well, then you have to have a party that rises above the more particular issues to the generic, the general issue of making America great, if I might take that word,” he added.
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) August 6, 2017