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Will anti-abortion Republicans stick with Trump?

Will anti-abortion Republicans stick with Trump?

Donald Trump, the former president, arguably contributed more than any other president to the anti-abortion movement. After all, he chose three of the judges on the Supreme Court who ruled against Roe v. Wade. But will he get the backing of movement leaders as he runs for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024? According to Politico, it’s not certain. Social conservatives are thinking about alternative candidates in light of Trump’s hesitation regarding a federal ban on abortion. One of them remarked, “We’re looking for an unashamed champion on this topic.”


Trump frequently extols his pro-life credentials. He recently wrote on the Truth Social social networking platform, “I was able to destroy Roe v. Wade, much to the shock of everyone, after 50 years of failure, with nobody getting even near. Yet he also attributes Republicans’ position on the matter to

The former president’s ambiguity has some political logic to it. Abortion restrictions may be popular with Republican primary voters, but there is strong evidence that the issue has impacted the party’s standing with the wider public. GOP contenders like Trump have “no easy answers,” according to The Associated Press. Could Trump’s bid to retake the White House be derailed by the abortion issue?

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What are commentators saying?

“In a general election, a strong anti-abortion stance can be a real negative,” wrote CNN’s Richard Galant. That means Trump’s boast that he “killed” abortion rights could sink his presidential candidacy. His recent ambiguity on the issue “could help Trump politically” with the general electorate, but it won’t get him that far with the anti-abortion activists whose votes he needs to win the Republican nomination. That leaves the former president in a pickle. Galant added, “Trump may need to come up with a better answer to keep the pro-life community in his good graces.”

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“Trump doesn’t get to have it both ways” on abortion, Nicole Russell stated for the Washington Examiner. It makes no sense that the former president “takes credit for reversing the country’s preeminent abortion ruling” but also “slams DeSantis for being too pro-life.” Trump is trying to use the abortion issue to win over conservative voters without being passionately pro-life himself. That may not work. “For most pro-life advocates, there is no such thing” as an ambiguous position on the issue. “There is only being pro-life or pro-abortion.” 

The answer for Trump may be to put the spotlight on Democrats, William McGurn wrote at
The Wall Street Journal
. “It’s no secret that Democrats plan to use abortion to paint Republicans as extremists.” Rather than get caught up in its divisions on abortion, the GOP should instead look outward and “put the focus on Democrat extremism,” say, by challenging President Biden on late-term abortions. “Constantly we are told—rightly—that Americans want to keep abortion legal but also support limits,” McGurn said. “Mr. Biden is not for any limits.”

What’s next?

Trump is currently sporting a hefty polling lead for the GOP nomination over DeSantis, his nearest rival. Will that hold? “Recent polling underscores that Trump may have to work to regain some evangelicals’ support,” FiveThirtyEight reported. But Trump also famously commands the loyalty of white evangelical voters that may transcend the abortion issue to some extent. “Many view him as their great warrior,” said Peter Wehner, a NeverTrump conservative. “It’s a bond that will be hard to break.”

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Anti-abortion activists say they will hold the line. “Our position is that anyone who’s running for a federal office who says that it’s a state-only job cannot receive the support of the pro-life movement,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, told The New Yorker. “I do think that the former president thinks that there is a line to be drawn. I just don’t know what it is.”

Trump may be inclined to keep fudging the issue, promising anti-abortion voters future victories while staying fuzzy on the specifics of what he would try to do if he returns to the White House. “For 50 years, they had been trying to” overturn Roe, he said this week. “I got it done, and now we’re in a position to make a really great deal and a deal that people want.” For now, it appears Trump will keep trying to have it both ways.

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