GOP senators fear base will make them take 'wildly unpopular' abortion positions -- so they're keeping silent: reports

Republican leadership is pushing radio silence on abortion strategy, although activist GOP candidates are calling for a national ban and stiff penalties, after a leaked draft opinion show the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The party's confidence in landslide victories was rattled by the revelation, because abortion restrictions motivate the GOP base but alienates swing voters, and a top adviser to House Republican leaders told Axios that polling shows voters aren't ready for Congress to take on the issue.

"[They aren't] hip to this kind of seismic change," the adviser said.

Lawmakers are asking advisers how they should talk about abortion in cases of rape or incest, which Axios notes is "wildly unpopular," and the National Republican Senatorial Committee urged caution or even silence -- but activist candidates and base voters don't care, and they're calling for abortion to be criminalized.

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"Tony Perkins — president of the Family Research Council, who's been fighting on the issue for 30 years — told me in a phone interview that there's 'some caution about overreach' among GOP leaders," wrote Axios co-founder Mike Allen. "But they're privately promising to help push America to be a 'predominantly pro-life nation.'"

In the meantime, Politico reported, Republican senators prefer that states settle the issue if Roe is struck down, at least until the GOP controls Congress and the White House.

“I’m definitely advocating: Let the states handle this,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who will face voters in November. “Maybe once that process has played itself out, yeah. Maybe there’s a point for federal legislation … a restriction that we probably ought to recognize nationally.”

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said last week that a national ban was "possible," but he added Monday that he was not willing to remove the filibuster on that issue or any other, but Democrats said there's a good reason to mistrust him.

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“Merrick Garland," said Senate majority whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), by way of explanation.

A 20-week ban on abortions has become the consensus GOP position, but Republican senators seem unwilling to tackle the issue until there's another president.

Call me in 2025," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has introduced legislation multiple times to enact a 20-week ban.