RNC chair Ronna McDaniel: GOP candidates have to address abortion 'head on'

Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, said GOP candidates will have to address abortion "head on" in 2024, a crucial presidential election year as the party continues to deal with the aftermath of last year's Supreme Court decision to overturn the constitutional right to an abortion.

“The guidance we’re gonna give to our candidates is, you have to address this head on,” McDaniel said on “Fox News Sunday,” attributing the GOP's lackluster results in the 2022 midterm elections to the issue.

“Many of our candidates across the board refused to talk about it, thinking ‘Oh we can just talk about the economy and ignore this big issue.’” McDaniel continued. “And they can’t.”

Republicans have a chance to retake the White House in 2024 and regain control of the Senate through a favorable map that is putting several vulnerable Democrats on the defensive.

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Ronna McDaniel, Chairwoman of the Republican Party holds the gavel at the start of the 2023 Republican National Committee Winter Meeting in Dana Point, California, on January 27, 2023.

McDaniel: GOP candidates can't be 'uncomfortable' on abortion

Anti-abortion conservatives earned a massive victory when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer, but since then, abortion has become a forefront issue for many voters and Republicans have struggled in multiple elections as a result.

Republican presidential hopefuls remain largely divided over whether they would support a national abortion ban. Most declared and expected candidates have yet to stake out a clear position on the issue, with some remaining mum on whether they would sign into law a federal ban. Others, such as former Vice President Mike Pence, who is mulling a bid, has said he supports a 15-week ban.

McDaniel urged candidates to stake a clear anti-abortion position heading into the next election cycle.

“They’re uncomfortable but they can’t be,” McDaniel said, adding that if Republicans do not provide their view on abortion, Democrats will do it for them.

“You need to say, listen, I'm proud to be pro-life,” McDaniel said.

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Re-elected Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel is applauded at the committee's winter meeting in Dana Point, Calif., Friday, Jan. 27, 2023.

GOP lawmaker takes aim at DeSantis' abortion ban

McDaniel is not the only one within the GOP calling for candidates to find a definitive position on abortion.

Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., who has become one of the most outspoken Republican figures attempting to steer her party to the center on abortion, took aim at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to soon launch a presidential campaign, for signing into law a restrictive 6-week abortion ban in Florida.

The ban, which has yet to take effect due to an ongoing legal challenge in the state Supreme Court on a separate 15-week ban, includes exceptions for rape or incest, but requires proof, such as a police report.

“Signing a 6-week ban that puts women who are victims of rape and girls who are victims of incest in a hard spot isn’t the way to change hearts and minds,” Mace said on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” adding she thinks the ban could come back to haunt the party if he is the GOP nominee.

“It puts him in a very difficult position for a general election in my opinion,” Mace said. “Which is why I have been so vocal on this issue, I would like us to win.”

Related: Nancy Mace takes on Ron DeSantis over abortion, warns GOP will 'lose huge' in 2024

Committee Chair Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., speaks during a committee on House Administration Oversight Subcommittee and House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Cybersecurity, Information Technology, and Government Innovation Subcommittee joint hearing Wednesday, April 19, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Abortion: RNC chair says 2024 GOP must address issue 'head on'