Nearly all the candidates asked about it in tonight's Republican presidential debate declared support for shutting down the federal government over the issue of defunding Planned Parenthood. Ohio Gov. John Kasich offered the sole dissenting answer among those who responded—which did not include Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Marco Rubio or, in any substantive way, Donald Trump—suggesting that perhaps a symbolic, do-nothing effort wasn't the sort of hill on which Republicans should even linger.
"When we shut the government down—if we have a chance at success and it's a great principle, yes," said Kasich. But "the president of the United States is not going to sign this, and all we're gonna do is shut the government down, and then we're gonna open up—open it up, and the American people are gonna shake their heads and say, 'what's the story with these Republicans?' … So I think there is a way to get to cutting off the funding for Planned Parenthood… without having to shut the government down."
Unsurprisingly, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has been leading efforts to defund Planned Parenthood in Congress as part of the current budget process, stuck up for his proposal, saying "I will veto any budget that doesn't fund Planned Parenthood… We need to stop surrendering and start standing."
Cruz was backed by Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. "I defunded Planned Parenthood" in New Jersey, pointed out Christie, "and I've vetoed Planned Parenthood funding eight times." When pressed to say whether he'd shutdown the government over the efforts, Christie said yes.
Jeb Bush, too, pointed out that he had defunded Planned Parenthood as governor of Florida, instead becoming "the only state to fund crisis pregnancy centers with state moneys." Crisis pregnancy centers are religious organiations that offer neither abortion nor women's health care, but do counsel pregnant women not to get abortions. Bush said: "We were totally focused on this. And I would bring that kind of philosophy to Washington, D.C."
Fiorina said that after calling her "good friend Bibi" and the leader of Iran on her first day in office, she would get to work on defunding Planned Parenthood. She also supports current Republican defunding efforts. "This is about the character of our nation, and if we will not stand up and force President Obama to veto this bill, then shame on us!"
Walker piped up unprovoked to note that he, too, had defunded Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin, and would be also supported Congressional Republicans current efforts. Trump, for his part, added: "I respect women. I will take care of women" before pivoting to Iran and North Korea.