Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) on Wednesday released a brutal new campaign ad against his GOP challenger, Daniel Cameron, featuring a childhood rape survivor ripping Cameron over his hardline opposition to abortion — even in cases of rape or incest.
“I was raped by my stepfather after years of sexual abuse. I was 12,” a young woman named Hadley says in the ad. “Anyone who believes there should be no exceptions for rape and incest could never understand what it’s like to stand in my shoes.”
“This is to you, Daniel Cameron,” Hadley says, looking directly into the camera.
“To tell a 12 year-old-girl she must have the baby of her stepfather who raped her is unthinkable,” she says. “I’m speaking out because women and girls need to have options. Daniel Cameron would give us none.”
You can watch the ad here:
Cameron’s campaign quickly responded with a video of its own, featuring Cameron speaking directly into the camera and calling Beshear’s ad “despicable.”
“Andy Beshear is running the most despicable campaign in Kentucky history. He lectures us on partisanship and unity, then runs disgusting, false attacks,” he said. “I have said if the legislature were to bring me a bill with exceptions, I would sign it.”
But Cameron, who is currently Kentucky’s attorney general, has suggested for months that he opposes any exceptions to abortion for survivors of rape and incest. It wasn’t until this week, as the Nov. 7 gubernatorial election nears, that he’s changed his public position. Beshear’s campaign has made abortion a central issue in their race, casting Cameron as an extreme and dangerous candidate for governor in a state where voters rejected an anti-abortion constitutional amendment last year.
In a Monday interview on the Tony & Dwight local radio show, Cameron was asked about attacks against him over his opposition to abortion and, specifically, to exceptions for survivors of rape.
“If our legislature was to bring legislation before me that provided exceptions for rape and incest, I would sign that legislation,” Cameron said. “There’s no question about that.”
“The Beshear administration and the Beshear campaign are running a smear campaign against me,” he continued. “But it’s not going to work because people see through the trash they are trying to put out on television.”
Cameron’s comments on Monday are a stark contrast to his longstanding support for the state’s near-total ban on abortion, which has no exceptions for rape or incest.
In an April interview on WKYT, Cameron was asked if he supports the existing ban.
“I’m going to continue to support and defend the Human Life Protection Act and continue the work that we’ve done in court to make sure that law stays intact,” Cameron said.
When the anchor specifically asked if he supports the bill’s lack of exceptions for rape or incest, Cameron responded, “Well, there is an exception, obviously, for the life of the mother. And I’m going to continue to support that Human Life Protection Act.”
Earlier in April, Cameron said in an interview with another local TV station that he was “not going to waver in my position” on Kentucky’s abortion ban and said he would “continue to defend the law as is,” without exceptions for rape or incest.
Cameron echoed his position again in Nov. 2022, when asked by an Associated Press reporter if he personally supported adding rape and incest exceptions to the state’s abortion ban.
“I support what the Human Life Protection Act says,” Cameron told the reporter, expressing support only for an exception to save the life of a pregnant woman.
Public polling on the race has been sparse, though Beshear released an internal poll earlier this month showing him with a 51% to 42% lead over Cameron.
The Kentucky governor’s race is one of a handful of elections this year that may be a bellwether for how the issue of abortion rights plays out in 2024, a presidential election year. Democrats embraced abortion rights in the 2022 elections and it delivered major victories — a trend that has taken hold since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June 2022.
Democrats continued their winning streak Tuesday night, when their party handily won special state legislative elections in both Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.