Social issues are becoming the focus of the Indiana gubernatorial race.
Democrat John Gregg has released a new television ad targeting Republican opponent Mike Pence over pay equity for women and access to Planned Parenthood’s preventative health programs. In 2011, Pence led the fight to to cut funding for the group.
Watch the ad:
In a message to supporters, the Gregg campaign is also highlighting Pence’s connection to controversial Congressman Todd Akin of Missouri. Last year, Pence was an original co-sponsor of a bill along with Akin that would have redefined rape in an attempt to put further restrictions on federal funding of abortions.
Gregg is against abortion, but believes in exemptions in cases of rape and incest. His campaign spokesman Daniel Altman says most Hoosier voters aren’t aware of Pence’s social views, and should consider them this fall.
“Congressman Pence was an original co-sponsor, he never took his name off it and to the best of my knowledge he never spoke out against this language being in there. Someone should be asking Congressman Pence what his thought process was there and how he feels about this issue,” he says.
But the Pence campaign argues that their candidate voted to remove the “forcible rape” language from the legislation, adding the Indiana congressman strongly disagrees with Akin’s comments that women who are raped cannot get pregnant.
“Campaigns should be about issues, they should not be about negative personal attacks,” says Pence campaign spokeswoman Christy Denault. “They should be about positions, they should be about philosophies on leadership and how candidates plan to govern.”
The anti-abortion bill was supported by number of Democrats, including Indiana Senate candidate Joe Donnelly. Observers argue the Gregg camp is trying to pivot the election to social issues after poll numbers showed Pence with a commanding 20-point lead.
But Altman says Hoosier voters should be aware of Pence’s socially conservative views.
“If you look at Mike Pence’s 12-year record in Congress, I think you’ll find that he’s been largely, if not exclusively, focused on divisive social issues,” he says.