Former President Donald Trump, who paved the way for the undoing of federal abortion rights protections, said that some Republicans “speak very inarticulately” about the issue and have pursued “terrible” state-level restrictions that could alienate much of the country.
While avoiding taking specific positions himself, Trump said in an NBC interview that if he is reelected he will try to broker compromises on how long into pregnancies abortion should be legal and whether those restrictions should be imposed on the federal or the state level.
“I would 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,” he said.
Trump also warned Republicans that the party would lose voters by advancing abortion restrictions without exceptions for cases of rape, incest or risks to the mother’s life.
“Other than certain parts of the country, you can’t – you’re not going to win on this issue,” he said.
Trump’s comments made plain the challenge for 2024 Republican presidential primary contenders: trying to balance the priorities of their conservative base, for whom the Supreme Court’s June 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade was a victory decades in the making, and those of the general electorate, which has consistently supported abortion rights – most recently in the 2022 midterms and the Wisconsin Supreme Court race this spring.
Abortion could also be a pivotal issue this fall in Virginia’s state legislative elections, which are widely viewed as a barometer of the electorate’s mood in the lead-up to next year’s presidential election.
Trump’s appointment of three conservative Supreme Court justices paved the way to the reversal of the 1973 decision that guaranteed abortion rights across the United States through the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.
That reversal left abortion rights up to the states, which has led to a patchwork of laws – including bans on abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy in Florida and Iowa, the first state to vote in the GOP presidential nominating process.
Abortion rights have been a major fault line in the 2024 Republican primary. Trump’s former vice president, Mike Pence, has advocated a federal abortion ban after 15 weeks. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Trump’s top-polling rival, has touted the six-week ban he signed into law. However, other contenders, including Nikki Haley, have taken more moderate approaches, warning of the political backlash Republicans could face among the broader electorate by pursuing strict abortion restrictions.
Trump in the NBC interview was sharply…