Malinowski claims Kean scrubbed abortion language from campaign website – but it’s still there

Gun Rights

Over the last several weeks, media outlets have noted that a number of Republican candidates around the country, fresh off of bruising primary fights, have removed hardline language on abortion from their websites in an effort to tack to the center for their general election campaigns.

Today, NJ-7 Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) tried to tie his Republican opponent, former State Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-Westfield), to that same trend, accusing Kean of “scrubbing” a portion of his website that said Kean would “protect the unborn from egregious abortion laws.”

But Malinowski’s attack isn’t really true. The homepage of Kean’s website never linked to the page referencing abortion, titled “Tom Kean Jr.: The Conservative Leader” – in other words, there was nothing to “scrub” from his main site. And although it’s not readily searchable, the page was never taken down from the internet and is still accessible today.

“No one should be surprised that Tom Malinowski is lying,” Kean campaign spokesman Harrison Neely said. “He has shown time and time again, not the truth or even the law can get between him and his political ambitions.”

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In addition to referencing abortion, the “Conservative Leader” page advocates for securing the country’s southern border, protecting school curricula from Critical Race Theory, and fighting inflation before ending with a call to vote for Kean in the June 7 Republican primary. (Kean won that contest with 45% of the vote against six more conservative challengers.)

According to the Kean campaign, the page was used in an ad campaign during the primary, though it’s not clear when or how it was sent out. The page does not appear to have been updated or utilized since primary day.

Naree Ketudat, Malinowski’s communications director, argued that the page showed Kean’s true colors on abortion, regardless of whether it been fully “scrubbed” from the internet.

“Tom Kean Jr. told voters he is a pro-life candidate, period, and has been saying that to his MAGA base since the primary while trying to hide it from the general public that sees his website,” she said.

Kean’s main website doesn’t reference abortion, nor does it go into depth on any other issue. His entire issues section is 29 words, promising to “support middle class tax relief” and “end wasteful spending.”

Kean has separately told the New Jersey Globe that he believes in “a woman’s right to choose with reasonable restrictions,” whereas Malinowski “vote[s] to legalize abortions right up until the moment of birth.” Kean’s record in Trenton usually reflected that belief, though in December 2021 he notably voted against the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act, which codified abortion access into state law.

Malinowski’s website, by contrast, has a detailed issues page that lists relatively specific policy positions, including on abortion. In his release from today, Malinowski said the fact that Kean’s position on abortion remains sequestered on a hard-to-find page is a sign that Kean is running away from the issue.

Despite its detail, however, Malinowski’s website seems to have been subject to some selective editing.

Before Malinowski’s uncompetitive Democratic primary victory in June, the gun control section of Malinowski’s issues page was titled “Standing up to the [National Rifle Association]” and slammed Kean for “stand[ing] with the gun lobby.” As part of a broader website redesign over the summer, that language was significantly changed to remove references to both Kean and the NRA.

Interestingly, Malinowski’s earlier website also did not mention abortion on its issues page; his multi-paragraph pledge to “protect a woman’s right to choose” was only added this summer.

Given polls showing a significant majority of the country opposed to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, it’s no surprise that Malinowski has run hard on abortion, and pressed Kean for more answers on his stance. It’s an issue that Malinowski very much wants to talk about, and one that Kean seemingly does not – but the idea that Kean erased his own record isn’t accurate.

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