By SARA BURNETT (Associated Press)
Donald Trump is facing renewed criticism from abortion opponents for refusing to abide by national abortion restrictions and for calling Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signing of a six-week ban on the procedure a “terrible mistake.”
Speaking Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Trump repeatedly declined to say whether he would support a federal abortion ban. He said he could “live with” the procedure being banned by individual states or nationwide through federal action, although he said it would “probably be better from a legal perspective” to be handled at the state level.
On the bill signed by DeSantis that bans abortions before many women know they are pregnant, Trump said: “I think what he did is a terrible thing and a terrible mistake.”
So far, the former president has dominated the 2024 election field, at times rejecting the anti-abortion groups that traditionally have a lot of influence in Republican primaries. But Trump’s direct attack on DeSantis, whom he has long viewed as his main rival, could give the Florida governor new fodder as he tries to regain momentum in his campaign and solidify his second-place finish.
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Another campaign spokesman, Andrew Romeo, distributed to reporters a roundup of conservative groups criticizing Trump, accusing him of repeatedly compromising with Democrats.
“Republicans across the country know that Ron DeSantis will never back down,” Romeo said.
The country’s largest anti-abortion organization, which supports a nationwide ban on abortions at 15 weeks of pregnancy, quickly released a statement saying that anything less restrictive “makes no sense.”
“We have come to a point where we need a human rights activist, someone who will work to save the lives of children and help mothers in need. Every single candidate should be clear about how they plan to do this,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America.
The Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade left the decision on whether and how to restrict abortion to the states, resulting in a patchwork of laws across the country, with most Republican-led states introducing new restrictions and Democratic-led states passing protections. Twenty-five million women of childbearing age now live in states where abortion is more difficult to obtain than before the ruling.
Trump has approached the abortion issue from a political perspective, saying the Supreme Court’s decision gives conservatives room to negotiate new restrictions. He has argued that Republicans’ push for abortion restrictions has hurt the GOP in the 2022 midterm elections and that GOP candidates need to do a better job explaining the issue.
The ban on abortion in the sixth week of pregnancy, as Florida passed earlier this year, is unpopular with the U.S. public, according to a June study by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs. The poll found that 73% of all U.S. adults believe abortions should be allowed up to the sixth week of pregnancy, i.e. About half of Americans say abortions should be allowed up to 15 weeks.
In that poll, 56% of Republicans said abortion should be allowed in their state up to six weeks, and 29% supported legalizing the procedure up to 15 weeks.
But in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation Republican caucuses, evangelicals and other social conservatives who strongly oppose abortion make up the majority of those participating and deciding the winner. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed an abortion ban similar to Florida’s this summer. Reynolds has not endorsed any candidate.
Trump called himself “the most pro-life president in American history” and noted that three of his Supreme Court nominees were part of the conservative majority that overturned Roe.
So far he has refused to follow some of his rivals, including his former Vice President Mike Pence, who is pushing for national bans that would take effect relatively early in a pregnancy.
Interviews with Republican voters and activists in recent months suggest a divide between people who are happy with Trump’s record during his time in office and others who want Trump to support a nationwide abortion ban.
Some Republicans in some key states, including those who support his rivals, expressed displeasure after the interview.
Among them was South Carolina state Rep. John McCravy, who supported the latest restrictive abortion measure banning the practice in his state after about six weeks of pregnancy. South Carolina will be among the first states to elect a candidate. McCravy described himself as “certainly disappointed” in an interview.
“It sounded completely inconsistent with his unwavering support for life during his time as president,” he said.
McCravy has endorsed South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott in the 2024 GOP presidential primary, but told AP last week: “Trump would probably be a close second given his Supreme Court appointments and his attendance at the March for Life rally.” taken into account in Washington.”
Kristen Wagoner, CEO of the conservative legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom, also expressed objection.
“Laws to protect the unborn are not a ‘terrible mistake’. They are the hallmark of a just and moral society,” she wrote on X. “Governors who protect lives should be applauded, not attacked.”
Burnett reported from Chicago. Associated Press writers Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix, Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina and Michelle L. Price in New York contributed to this report.
https://www.twincities.com/2023/09/18/trump-calls-desantis-abortion-ban-a-terrible-mistake-sparking-anger-from-some-key-republicans/ Trump calls DeSantis’ abortion ban “a terrible mistake,” sparking anger among some key Twin Cities Republicans