When pressed about the Democratic Party's abortion stance in a recent interview, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez responded by questioning the faith of people who "go to church on Sunday" while also supporting President Donald Trump.
"I think the challenge that I see among a lot of people that go to Donald Trump rallies, and then they will go to church on Sunday, and I'm not, I don't know what faith they are worshiping," Perez told Axios' Jonathan Swan in an interview published Sunday. "Donald Trump has done more to hurt the least of us, among us, than just about any president I can think of."
Perez made the remarks after a back and forth about whether or not there's still room for pro-life voices and views in the Democratic Party, given some of his own hardline comments on the abortion issue.
During the interview, Swan brought up Perez's 2017 remarks that Democrats' support for abortion is "not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state." He also asked the party chief to respond criticisms from Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, who wrote in 2018 that "it saddens me, and weakens the democracy millions of Americans cherish, when the party that once embraced Catholics now slams the door on us."
"Well, actually the majority of Catholics voted for Democrats in 2016, so apparently the cardinal may not understand that Matthew 25 is a pretty important teaching," Perez countered, referring to the parable of the sheep and the goats in the New Testament.
"Matthew 25 says, you know, when you were hungry, I fed you. When you were naked, I provided you with clothing. When you were an immigrant, I welcomed you," Perez added. "I think one of the reasons why so many people are moving away from Donald Trump is that he's abandoned all of those values."
Axios' writeup of the interview notes in a fact check that Catholic voters were "closely split between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in 2016," according to exit polling and analysis.
Swan also asked Perez about the success of Louisiana Democratic Gov. Jon Bel Edwards, whose stances and actions on unborn life differed considerably with the kind of pro-abortion ideological orthodoxy that Perez put forward in his 2017 statement.
Perez said that Edwards shouldn't have to "turn in his Democrat card," as Swan put it, but that the governor was "wrong" to sign a heartbeat abortion ban bill passed by the state legislature last year.
"I profoundly disagree with the position he took there, and I think I speak for most Democrats in saying that" Perez said of Edwards. "And I will continue to say that publicly because I think it's a really important issue."
The question of the Democratic Party's openness to pro-life voters became subject of debate earlier this year on the 2020 primary campaign trail after then-candidate Pete Buttigieg was was confronted on his abortion stance by Pro-Life Democrats executive director Kristen Day in late January. When questioned on his thoughts on the matter Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) later said that "by this time in history, I think, when we talk about what a Democrat is, I think being pro-choice is essentially, an essential part of that."
The overall trend of Democrats abandoning the former mantra of "safe, legal, and rare" for a far more unapologetic and extreme stance has been well documented over the last few years. Meanwhile, the party's leftward march on abortion would appear to be leaving a lot of its voters behind. Gallup polling conducted in May 2019 showed that 29% of Democrats identified as "pro-life," while Marist polling conducted in January found that 44% of Democrats favor restrictions on abortions ranging from limiting it to the first three months of a pregnancy to not allowing it under any circumstances.
DNC chair responds to criticism for saying Democratic support of abortion rights is non-negotiable www.youtube.com