With VP Pick, Trump Tries To Dull Impact Of The Abortion Problem He Created

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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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Instead of campaigning on what anti-abortion activists have declared his legacy — laying the groundwork for Roe’s overturning with the appointments of three conservative SCOTUS justices — Donald Trump has been reluctant to talk about his views on abortion in any specific terms for the better part of the past year, and really, ever since the 2022 midterms.

Over the summer, he began talking about his supposedly diehard support for exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother when it comes to red states’ restrictive bans. In September he promised if elected he could bring “both sides” together on the issue. In February, the New York Times reported that Trump was privately expressing interest in a 16-week national ban with exceptions. Though Trump has publicly denied that reporting, he hasn’t been clear on where he actually stands since then — likely because he doesn’t know how to balance maintaining the undying affection he receives from anti-abortion groups like the Susan B. Anthony List, which has vowed to withhold its support for Trump if he doesn’t endorse a 15-week ban minimum, without alienating Republican voters who think Americans should have access to legal abortion.

According to a new report from NBC News, one of the key factors Trump is considering as he weighs his VP pick is where they stand on abortion. In recent weeks, Trump has become so fixated on the Republican Party’s struggle to find a messaging balance on the issue that he’s been polling diners at Mar-a-Lago to get their thoughts on the abortion views of some of his top picks for running mate — specifically the hardline views of Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), who is believed to be on the shortlist for VP.

Per NBC:

According to two sources close to Trump, including the person at the dinner, Trump has been laser-focused on the abortion issue, especially when it comes to his vice presidential pick. He sees it as the one major advantage for Democrats and a vulnerability for Republicans. 

“The president understands it as a treacherous issue — one that you can actually trip up and fall on your face with,” said the source, a person familiar with his thinking. The person added that Trump would most likely not risk picking “someone with a six-week ban in their discussions or someone without any commitment on the exceptions.”

Trump has reportedly been frustrated to see the voter backlash to the Dobbs ruling in every election since the 2022 midterms and was “disappointed,” in NBC’s words, with how candidates he endorsed in 2022 spoke about the issue.

“Abortion is Donald Trump’s singular focus in the book of issues. He sees it as existential for the party. He understands how it plays in specific states. He understands how people have played it and won or lost,” one source told NBC.

Besides Scott, Trump has also been asking people close to him how they feel about the abortion views of Sen. JD Vance (R-OH), Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Read more from the NBC News report here.

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