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‘What the Hell Is He Doing?’ Donald Trump’s Abortion Comments Will Make Conservatives Freak

The interactions between Donald Trump and the anti-abortion movement are so complex and fascinating that they could be the subject of a book, and most likely someday will be. 

President of the United States Donald Trump speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. By Gage Skidmore.

Is Donald Trump in trouble with the anti-abortion movement?: In his interview on “Meet the Press” over the weekend, the former president once again put some daylight between himself and the strongest demands of the anti-abortion movement. Will it hurt him in the GOP race? 

Conservatives Are Going To Hate What Donald Trump Just Said

The interactions between Donald Trump and the anti-abortion movement are so complex and fascinating that they could be the subject of a book, and most likely someday will be. 

Trump came into Republican politics without any historic ties to the anti-abortion movement, and even more lacking in socially conservative bona fides. However, he won that cohort over during his 2016 campaign and eventually his presidency. He appointed numerous conservative judges, including three Supreme Court justices in his four years, which led to the overturning of the Roe v. Wade decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in 2022. 

This accomplished the anti-abortion movement’s longstanding goal, yet at the same time, it led to a serious electoral backlash that has given Democrats an advantage in elections since then. And Trump appears to have taken the lesson from that, as he runs for president again. 

Back in January, Trump made comments about how the issue had hurt Republicans in the midterm elections. 

“It wasn’t my fault that the Republicans didn’t live up to expectations in the MidTerms,” Trump wrote on Truth Social in January, pushing back against the conventional wisdom at the time that, thanks to his poor endorsement picks, it was his fault. “It was the ‘abortion issue,’ poorly handled by many Republicans, especially those that firmly insisted on No Exceptions, even in the case of Rape, Incest, or Life of the Mother, that lost large numbers of Voters.”

This break with the anti-abortion movement was part of the narrative, in early 2023, that Trump was vulnerable in the GOP race. But as the former president has risen in the polls since, that talk his since dissipated. 

But on Sunday, in his interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Trump brought up the issue again. 

“I think they’re all gonna like me, I think both sides are gonna like me,” Trump said when asked about abortion, not typically an issue that has lent itself to compromise. 

“What’s going to happen is you’re going to come up with a number of weeks or months, you’re going to come up with a number that’s going to make people happy,” Trump said, in reference to laws that have been passed in various states, post-Dobbs, that have banned abortion after a certain number of weeks. Some states, such as Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Florida, have banned the procedure within six weeks, in what supporters call a “heartbeat bill.” 

“From a pure standpoint, from a legal standpoint, I think it’s probably better. But I can live with it either way,” Trump told NBC. “It could be state or could [be] federal, I don’t frankly care.”

When asked if he would sign a full nationwide abortion ban, Trump did not say yes or no, but rather vowed to “sit down with both sides and I’d negotiate something and we’ll end up with peace on that issue for the first time in 52 years.”

Donald Trump Just Gave His Opponents Ammo 

Per CNN, DeSantis’ team has hit back at Trump for his vow to compromise on the issue. 

“We’ve already seen the disastrous results of Donald Trump compromising with Democrats: over $7 trillion in new debt, an unfinished border wall, and the jailbreak First Step Act letting violent criminals back on to the streets. Republicans across the country know that Ron DeSantis will never back down,” Andrew Romeo, a spokesman for the Florida governor and presidential candidate, wrote on social media. 

The question will likely emerge of whether having made such a comment will hurt Trump in the Republican primaries or that his lead is no so large that it can’t possibly matter. Most polls in recent weeks, including the Morning Consult poll last week, have had Trump leading the GOP field by 40 points. 

Author Expertise and Experience

Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.

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Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

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