California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) on Sunday said intelligence should be the deciding factor for Democratic Party candidates, suggesting that abortion as a litmus test would not be helpful nationwide.
“Well, the litmus test should be intelligence, caring about, as Harry Truman or Roosevelt used to call it, the common man,” Brown told NBC’s “Meet the Press” when asked by host Chuck Todd if abortion should be the litmus test for his party.
“We're not going to get everybody on board. And I'm sorry, but running in San Francisco is not like running in Tulare County or Modoc, California, much less Mobile, Alabama.”
Brown’s comments come as Democrats wrestle with whether support for abortion rights should be a requirement for candidates to get party backing.
Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), recently said in an interview with The Hill that the party will not withhold funding from candidates who do not support abortion rights as Democrats try to flip the House in the 2018 midterm elections.
That set off fierce debate among Democrats and outside groups.
Luján later clarified his comments to The Hill, saying he is committed to abortion rights, though he reiterated the need for a big-tent Democratic party.
"We will have to win in very tough, diverse, swing Republican held districts across the country. Ultimately, the people in districts across the country will determine who will take on the Republican incumbent,” Luján said last week.
Brown in his Sunday interview said Democrats must rise “above the more particular issues to the generic” if they want to govern and ideologically and ethnically diverse country.
“So I'd say, look, even on the abortion issue, 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,” Brown explained.
“In America, we're not ideological. We're not like a Marxist party in 1910. We are big tent by the very definition. We're not ideological in the European sense of what political parties used to be. Even in Europe now, they don't have that same ideological purity.”