There's been an awful lot of misinformation (to put it charitably) being tossed around in campaign ads and the blogosphere about Bob Dold's position on abortion, and the Chicago Tribune editorial board has finally had enough:
You can get immune to candidates taking liberties with the truth as they rip each other during campaigns, but sometimes they mislead voters so badly you have to call them on it. Such is the case with Democrat Dan Seals.
Seals is running for the U.S. House in the north suburban 10th District. He and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee are running ads that say Republican Robert Dold is "too extreme" on abortion. But they don't cite Dold's own words or views on abortion. That wouldn't work, because Dold plainly says he supports abortion rights. They cite, instead, the views of the Illinois Federation for Right to Life.
"Bob Dold is hiding who he is. Dold's supported by radical groups that would criminalize abortion in every case," says an ominous voice in a Seals TV ad.
"Dold is backed by the Illinois Federation for Right to Life," says a DCCC-sponsored ad. "They oppose abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, or to protect a mother's health. Dold's supporters want to change the Constitution and criminalize a woman's choice."
Now here are the facts. Illinois Federation for Right to Life has not endorsed Dold. The group said it preferred Dold over his opponents in the Republican primary, but didn't make an endorsement then either. Bonnie Quirke, who represents the 10th District on the federation's board, told us that Dold "basically considers himself a pro-choice candidate, so we can't endorse something like that."
"On the basic common issue of 'does a woman have a right to make a choice,' he would differ with us," she said.
Dold and Seals recently met with the Tribune editorial board. Here's what they said about abortion.
Dold: "Let's be clear. I'm pro-choice. I believe in a woman's right to choose. I don't believe that should be a decision that the government gets in between a doctor and the patient."
Seals: "I differ in that I actually mean what I say when I say the government shouldn't have a role. I believe this is a decision that should be made by a woman, and her family, and her doctor and her God … we want abortions to be safe, legal and rare."
There are differences in their views. Dold supports laws that require a parent be notified before his or her minor child has an abortion, Seals opposes parental notification. Seals supports public funding for abortion; Dold opposes it. Seals supports partial-birth abortion, Dold opposes it.
The Tribune has endorsed Dold (who is not related to editorial page editor Bruce Dold). We have described Seals as "impressive," praise that shows up in his campaign ads. That's fair game. We said that about him in 2008 when we endorsed his opponent, Rep. Mark Kirk.
We're not impressed that Seals would give voters false ideas about his opponent's views on abortion. Not impressed at all. He and the DCCC should drop these very misleading ads.
The Trib could have added Lauren Beth Gash's Tenth Congressional District Democrats to their list of liars on this topic, but that group is, I am sure, bneneath the Trib's notice.
Fact is, Bob Dold is a pro-choice candidate but supports some common-sense restrictions like parental notification. Dan Seals, on the other hand, wants abortions to be as easy to order as a Big Mac (I stole that from some other source today but forgot where I saw it, and couldn't resist), brooking no restrictions at all, including using federal tax dollars to pay for abortions. Dan Seals, not Bob Dold, seems to be the one with the "extreme" views on abortion that don't fit the voters in the 10th District.
But, is this all really what we need to be talking about less than two weeks before the election? While many one-issue voters on both sides obsess about abortion, I think more people in the 10th District are concerned over the economy, their livelihood, their retirement, and their childrens' future. On these issues, Bob Dold has the right message, and that's what's going to carry the day for him come November 2nd.