2020 Dem laments party 'playing defense,' cites 'conservative pro-life court'

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, suggested Wednesday that his party kept losing elections -- and subsequently judicial confirmation battles -- because it wasn't being aggressive enough in challenging its opponents.

Ryan, a 2020 presidential candidate, told MSNBC that while the party needed to push legislative support for abortion, it could only do so much without taking congressional seats. “We keep playing defense all the time on all of these issues and in all of these states and in the federal government,” he said.

“We now have the federal courts peppered with conservative pro-life justices. The Supreme Court is a conservative pro-life court. We’ve got to start moving in the right direction here politically and getting elected so that we appoint the judges and we win elections in these states.”

He was responding to MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle, who asked if he had a plan for protecting abortion access. Their conversation came just after fellow contenders -- Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas -- released their own plans for protecting abortion access.

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Abortion became a prominent issue in the 2020 race when several states passed controversial restrictions on access -- teeing up a legal battle the Supreme Court could use to overturn major abortion precedent.

President Trump's judicial agenda has received praise from pro-life advocates while Democrats have fiercely opposed Trump's judicial nominees -- in particular, Justice Bret Kavanaugh -- and attempted to strike a deal with the president over the Ninth Circuit.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, blasted Trump's choice to nominate Dan Collins, whom the Senate approved on Tuesday, citing his "history of undermining civil and reproductive rights."

In a statement provided to Fox News, Judicial Crisis Network Chief Counsel Carrie Severino praised Collins but noted "Democrat obstruction" as a hurdle to his confirmation.

"Dan Collins had to run the all-too-familiar gauntlet of unprincipled Democrat obstruction but came out a winner. He will be another exceptional addition to the court, protecting the rule of law and helping bring the Ninth Circuit into the legal mainstream," she said.