Bob Stefanowski talks with members of the media.
Bob Stefanowski talks with members of the media. Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

In a Friday morning email, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski walked back a remark made during a television forum that aired the night before when he suggested that abortions should be limited to the first trimester.

Stefanowski said he misspoke during his portion of a taped forum hosted by WFSB and CT Insider. One objective of the event was to give both Stefanowski and incumbent Gov. Ned Lamont an opportunity to clarify their positions on issues on which their opponents have attacked them through television ads.

On the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, state Democrats have sought to cast Stefanowski as a threat to abortion rights despite the candidate’s insistence he would uphold Connecticut’s policies. 

Asked by moderator Susan Raff to clarify his personal position on abortion, Stefanowski repeated that he supported abortion rights but also favored a parental notification policy not currently required in Connecticut. Then he added:”I think abortion should be limited to the first trimester.”  

On Friday, an hour before state Democrats held a remote press conference reacting to the comment, Stefanowski’s campaign released a statement designed to reassure voters he had no plans to change the state’s abortion laws and accusing Lamont and his surrogates of diverting attention away from the governor’s law enforcement policies.

“I misspoke last night and anyone who has been following this campaign closely knows it,” Stefanowski said in the email. “Unlike Governor Lamont, when I make an innocent mistake, I correct it and move on. Let me be clear: Nothing about my position has changed. I’ve said for months that Connecticut’s abortion law won’t change when I am governor – and it won’t. Period. Full stop.”

Democrats, who went ahead with their press conference anyway, were not convinced. Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz said Stefanowski’s remarks “showed his true colors.” Asked about Stefanowski’s email walking the comment back, Bysiewicz was unwilling to let him off the hook.

“You know what? Then you shouldn’t be running for governor. This is the biggest campaign issue or one of the biggest that we face and if you can’t get it right after two tries, I don’t even know what to say,” Bysiewicz said. “The thing is that the people of Connecticut want someone to know that words matter, especially when we’re talking about life and death and that is what this is about.” 

Although the Supreme Court decision and efforts to restrict abortion access accross the country have kept the issue in the news, polling throughout this year’s election season suggests it has taken a back seat to economic concerns among Connecticut voters. 

A statewide poll released Monday by Quinnipiac University found 37% of likely voters reporting inflation as their most urgent issue while just 8% listed abortion as the most urgent issue facing Connecticut.