Trump Will ‘Soon’ Decide Who He’s Willing To Piss Off On Abortion

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ROME, GEORGIA - MARCH 09: Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a campaign rally at the Forum River Center March 09, 2024 in Rome, Georgia. Both Trump and President Joe Bi... ROME, GEORGIA - MARCH 09: Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a campaign rally at the Forum River Center March 09, 2024 in Rome, Georgia. Both Trump and President Joe Biden are holding campaign events on Saturday in Georgia, a critical battleground state, two days before the its primary elections. A city of about 38,000, Rome is in the heart of conservative northwest Georgia and the center of the Congressional district represented by Rep. Majorie Taylor Green (R-GA). (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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Tucked into that exceptionally grim, softball Trump interview with Fox News’ Howard Kurtz over the weekend, there was a little chunk of news: the former president plans to make a decision “pretty soon” on whether he’ll back a national abortion ban if he wins the White House again in the fall.

“We’re going to find out,” Trump cryptically said when asked if he would back a 16-week federal ban, a restriction his campaign has previously denied he’d support. “Pretty soon, I’m gonna be making a decision. I would like to see if we could make both sides happy.”

The fact that he intends to actually plant his flag somewhere on the issue at some point “soon” is the “news.” Trump’s been sidestepping specifics and regurgitating “both sides” nonsense for months at this point. That’s primarily because he, like other Republicans, is having a hard time dealing with the abortion problem that he created by appointing three conservative Supreme Court justices during his presidency, setting the stage for Roe’s overturning.

Trump has barely spoken about his abortion positioning since the 2022 midterms, when he was reportedly disappointed by the abortion rhetoric being espoused by some of the far-right candidates he backed, and when Republicans overall fell short of the gains they expected due to how unpopular extreme abortion bans were among Democratic and many Republican voters alike.

I unpacked this in a piece last week, but Trump has backed himself into a rather unprecedented corner on an issue that anti-abortion activists have heralded his legacy. The web of alienating factors he faces if he announces anything specific on abortion has grown increasingly complex:

  • One of the most vocal anti-abortion groups, the Susan B. Anthony List, which has sway among the most extreme, anti-abortion voters has promised it’ll withhold its support for Trump if he doesn’t endorse a 15-week national ban as a bare minimum heading into 2024.
  • One of the key factors Trump is considering as he weighs his VP pick is where they stand on abortion. He’s reportedly concerned that some of his top choices for the veepship, like Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), have embraced policy positions too extreme for the growing chunk of Republican voters who think Americans should have legal access to the procedure when necessary.
  • Trump has been saying for about a year now that he won’t support any abortion restrictions that don’t include exceptions for rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger, an opinion he, conveniently, only began discussing publicly after recent electoral backlash to the extreme bans being passed in red states across the U.S.
  • By avoiding specifics he’s been able to sidestep angering his evangelical supporters who worship him for his role in Roe‘s demise and alienating those Republican voters who don’t want to see the procedure entirely outlawed.

Whether he’ll meticulously weigh all of these factors or make up his mind on the Republican Party’s stance on abortion on a whim — we’ll know “pretty soon.”

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