GOP candidate Donald Trump did not “break any commitments” to speak by phone Wednesday to a regular gathering of pro-life leaders, said Fr. Frank Pavone, the national director of Priests for Life.
Both The Daily Beast and Politico, however, reported that Trump “blew off” the pro-life leaders.
“Donald Trump just blew off pro-life leaders exactly one week after he angered the movement by calling for ‘punishment’ for abortion,” the Daily Beast reported.
The Daily Beast report continues:
Trump was reportedly expected to address Priests for Life and the 115 Forum conference during a conference call on Wednesday. But he bailed. Leslie Palma, a spokesperson for Priests for Life, told The Daily Beast that Trump did not dial-in.
A conservative operative with knowledge of the call told The Daily Beast that pro-life leaders involved were disappointed Trump decided not to speak with them.
An earlier story in Politico also claimed pro-life leaders were “disappointed” that they did not hear from Trump during their meeting.
“Rev. Frank Pavone, an influential social conservative activist who oversees Priest for Life, declined to address the Trump campaign’s statement that the mogul had never intended to address the group,” Politico reported.
The Trump campaign denied to Breitbart News that a meeting was ever set up between the candidate and the pro-life leaders.
Sources in the pro-life movement close to Breitbart News said the meeting of the leaders was a regularly scheduled meeting, the contents of which are always off the record, but that Trump was not on the agenda.
In a statement sent to Breitbart News, Pavone said:
Our organization reaches out to candidates regularly. Many of these conversations are off the record. But in fairness, let me make clear that Mr. Trump did not break any commitments to speak to me or any gathering I organize. On the contrary, I have had very friendly and fruitful interactions with him and members of his team and look forward to continuing that dynamic.
[P]riests for Life carries out efforts to provide all campaigns an opportunity to connect with the prolife leadership in America and to receive solid advice on how to deal with abortion. We get a good deal of cooperation from Republican candidates, who tend to recognize that the unborn deserve protection. The Democrats, on the other hand, have abandoned the truth that all are created equal, and tend to favor the killing of the unborn.
“As for Donald Trump, I far prefer the kind of mistake he made recently, and then corrected, regarding who should be punished, than the ongoing deliberate mistake of Clinton and Sanders who cannot seem to find an abortion they don’t like,” Pavone added.
Last week, Trump was interviewed by both MSNBC and CBS on the question of abortion. He said that if abortion were to become illegal, women who had abortions should receive some form of punishment.
Trump’s campaign later walked back that statement to say that abortionists – not women – would be punished if abortion ever became illegal.
Two days later, Trump responded in a CBS interview to a question about what he would do to further restrict access to abortion by stating, “The laws are set now on abortion and that’s the way they’re going to remain until they’re changed.”
Pressed further about banning abortion past a certain stage of pregnancy, Trump replied, “I would’ve preferred states’ rights. I think it would’ve been better if it were up to the states. But right now, the laws are se … At this moment, the laws are set. And I think we have to leave it that way.”
His campaign also clarified that statement.
Trump, who in 1999 described himself as “very pro-choice,” says that he is now pro-life and would defund Planned Parenthood if the organization continues to perform abortions. Nevertheless, he also has stated that Planned Parenthood helps “millions” of women with other health services.
National pro-life leader Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, reacted to Trump’s statements on abortion: “It seems each pronouncement Mr. Trump makes that comes from his gut must be corrected by someone 15 minutes later. At some point, the candidate’s words must stand on their own. What do you believe, Mr. Trump? No one knows.”