Former President Trump refused to answer multiple questions on if he would sign a federal abortion ban into law if he were to win the 2024 presidential election during CNN’s disastrous Wednesday night town hall, a move reflective of the party’s broader flailing on the issue heading into the primaries.
“What I’ll do is negotiate so that people are happy,” Trump said when CNN’s Kaitlan Collins asked the former president if he would sign a federal abortion ban.
“Just to be clear, Mr. President,” Collins followed up. “You would sign a federal abortion ban into law?”
“No, I said this,” Trump continued. “I wanna do what’s right and we’re looking.”
As Trump tried to dodge the question, Collins kept pushing the former president for a straightforward answer.
“But I think this is a really important question for you to answer because this is something every Republican, including those who are running against you for the nomination, are being asked about… Would you sign a federal abortion ban into law?” Collins asked for a third time.
“And many of them are gonna give you the same answers… First of all, I’m honored to have done what I did,” Trump responded, pivoting to the Supreme Court – that he packed with right-wing justices – ruling on Dobbs last summer, before continuing to give a non-answer answer.
Trump’s many attempts to steer clear of giving a solid “yes” or “no” to a very straightforward question is likely rooted in the fact that abortion politics seem to have any Republican with 2024 ambitions in a chokehold.
As last year’s midterms and the success of abortion access ballot initiatives have made clear, voters are unhappy with Republicans’ extreme stances on abortion and thus many who are considering presidential bids are trying to avoid planting their flag in any way that’ll alienate either the evangelical base or moderate Republican and independent voters.
The topic has already led one pro-life group to give Trump an ultimatum, threatening to withhold its support if the former president doesn’t change his public stance on abortion.
In April, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America — an organization that supports anti-abortion politicians — made their expectations for 2024 candidates clear , saying they would refuse to get behind any GOPers who don’t embrace at minimum a 15-week national ban on abortions, legislation that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) proposed in the wake of Roe’s overturning.
With the threat of alienating voters through his stance on the issue — one way or another — at an all time high, Trump tried very hard to not give a direct answer on the issue Wednesday night.
“If they sent it to your desk, would you sign it?” Collins pushed Trump.
“Some people are at six weeks. Some people are at three weeks, two weeks,” Trump kept rambling.
“Where is President Trump,” Collins asked.
“President Trump is going to make a determination. What he thinks is great for the country and what’s fair for the country,” Trump said.
“I just want to give you one more chance because you did not answer whether or not you’d sign a federal abortion ban or how many weeks into pregnancy you believe abortion should be banned,” Collins pushed one last time. “Can you answer either of those tonight?”
“I’ve given you the answer probably four times already. I’m looking at a solution that is going to work,” Trump snapped back.