Former President Donald Trump plans to negotiate with Democrats on the issue of abortion if reelected in 2024, saying in a Meet the Press interview released on Sunday, “I think they are all going to like me. I think both sides are going to like me.”
During a wide-ranging interview with NBC News moderator Kristen Welker, Trump repeatedly reiterated his intent to mediate on the issue of abortion if reelected and framed Democrats as extreme for supporting abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. He also declined to say if he believes unborn babies have a constitutional right to life and hit out at 2024 Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for signing a six-week abortion limit, calling the move a “terrible thing”:
Trump says that it’s a “terrible thing” to sign a heartbeat abortion bill such as the ones passed in FL, IA, OH, GA etc.
Where are the alleged pro-life groups/leaders on this?
— AG (@AGHamilton29) September 17, 2023
When asked repeatedly if he would sign a 15-week federal abortion restriction if reelected, Trump replied, “I’m going to come together with all groups, and we’re going to have something that’s acceptable.”
“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 because 92 percent of the Democrats don’t want to see abortion after a certain period of time,” he said.
“If a federal ban landed on your desk, if you were reelected, at 15 weeks, would you sign it?” pressed Welker, who also repeatedly and falsely insisted that Democrats do not support unfettered abortion access.
“Well, people are starting to think of 15 weeks. That seems to be a number that people are talking about right now,” Trump replied. “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. I’m not gonna say I would or I wouldn’t. I mean, DeSanctus was willing to sign a five-week and six-week ban.”
“Would you support that? Do you think that goes too far?” Welker asked.
“I think what he did is a terrible thing and a terrible mistake,” Trump answered. “But we’ll come up with a number. But at the same time, Democrats won’t be able to go out in six months, seven months, eight months and allow an abortion.”
When Welker asked whether the federal government should have a role in regulating abortions or the issue should be completely left up to individual states, Trump replied, “It could be states, or it could be federal. Frankly, I don’t care.”
“I would say this: Everybody, including the great legal scholars, love the idea of Roe v. Wade terminated so it would be brought back to the states,” he said. “I would say this from a pure standpoint, from a legal standpoint: I think it’s probably better, but I can live with it either way.”
“The number of weeks is much more important — but something will happen with the number of weeks, the amount of time after, which you can’t do it,” he continued. “It could be a state ban. It could be a federal ban — but Democrats want that, too. Democrats don’t want to see abortion in the seventh month, okay? I speak to a lot of Democrats. They want a number. There is a number, and there’s a number that’s going to be agreed to.”
How the pro-life movement should proceed following the fall of Roe has notably been a great point of contention among Republicans leading up to the 2024 presidential election. Some view abortion as a “losing issue” and point to GOP failures in the 2022 midterms, successful pro-abortion ballot initiatives, … the spending power of angry Democrats, and the abortion lobby moving into 2024.
Others, as well as national pro-life organizations, view federal legislation as the next step in a larger plan to limit abortions in the United States, and look at the reelection of pro-life governors and the passage (pre- and post-Dobbs) of pro-life legislation in 25 states as evidence of progress to come.
As for Trump, he concluded that “Republicans speak very inarticulately” about abortion and said Republicans pushing for stronger pro-life protections are “not going to win on this issue.”
“I think the Republicans speak very inarticulately about this subject. I watched some of them [say], ‘Without the exceptions, et cetera, et cetera,”‘ he said.
“Other than certain parts of the country, you can’t — you’re not going to win on this issue. But you will win on this issue when you come up with the right number of weeks because Democrats don’t want to be radical on the issue,” he said. “Most of them — some do. They don’t want to be radical on the issue. They don’t want to kill a baby in the seventh month or the ninth month or after birth, and they’re allowed to do that. And you can’t do that.”
The DeSantis War Room X account, along with some conservatives and pro-life activists, criticized Trump’s abortion comments after the interview was released:
NEW: Trump says he will compromise with Democrats on abortion so that they’re nice to him: “Both sides are going to like me.”
— DeSantis War Room 🐊 (@DeSantisWarRoom) September 17, 2023
“Trump says he will compromise with Democrats on abortion so that they’re nice to him: ‘Both sides are going to like me. Then he says it’s “a terrible thing” babies with heartbeats are protected in Iowa, Florida, and South Carolina. Ron DeSantis will never sell out conservatives to win praise from corporate media or the Left,” the DeSantis War Room account also posted.
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… https://t.co/1g6oURZ63m
— Andrew Romeo (@andrewromeo33) September 17, 2023
DeSantis’s communications director, Andrew Romeo, also responded to the interview, saying Trump’s compromises with the Democrats brought “disastrous results” during his term.
“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,” Romeo wrote. “Republicans across the country know that Ron DeSantis will never back down.”
Laws protecting the unborn are not a “terrible mistake.” They are the hallmark of a just and moral society. Governors who protect life should be applauded, not attacked.
And while we’re at it, men can’t become women. This is also based on a simple biological reality and one… https://t.co/1NBSE4zhwn
— Kristen Waggoner (@KWaggonerADF) September 17, 2023
“Laws protecting the unborn are not a “terrible mistake.” They are the hallmark of a just and moral society. Governors who protect life should be applauded, not attacked,” Alliance Defending Freedom President Kristen Waggoner wrote. “And while we’re at it, men can’t become women. This is also based on a simple biological reality and one necessary for a just and moral society.”
Pathetic and unacceptable.
Trump is actively attacking the very pro-life laws made possible by Roe’s overturning.
Heartbeat Laws have saved thousands of babies.
But Trump wants to compromise on babies’ lives so pro-abort Dems “like him.”
Trump should not be the GOP nominee. https://t.co/oYRz3rNmre
— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) September 17, 2023
“Pathetic and unacceptable. Trump is actively attacking the very pro-life laws made possible by Roe’s overturning,” founder and president of Live Action Lila Rose wrote. “Heartbeat Laws have saved thousands of babies. But Trump wants to compromise on babies’ lives so pro-abort Dems “like him.” Trump should not be the GOP nominee.”
Trump — who is responsible for the current makeup of the Supreme Court that overturned Roe v. Wade and delivered the issue of abortion back to the states and their elected representatives — has been consistent in not committing to specific action on abortion if he is reelected. But he has previously said the federal government has a “vital role” to play in protecting the unborn and has framed Democrats’ late-term abortion position as “extreme.”
“We will defeat the radical Democrat policy of extreme late-term abortion,” Trump said in June at Faith and Freedom Coalition’s 2023 “Road to Majority” conference.
Trump was also asked during a May 2023 CNN town hall if he would sign a federal abortion ban into law if he is elected president in 2024. While Trump did not directly answer the question, he said he would “negotiate so people are happy.”
“I want to do what’s right. And we’re looking. And we want to do what’s right for everybody,” he said. “But now, for the first time, the people that are pro-life have negotiating capability because you didn’t have it before. They could kill the baby in the ninth month or after the baby was born. Now, they won’t be able to do that.”
President Trump is going to make a determination what he thinks is great for the country and what’s fair for the country. But the fact that I was able to terminate Roe v. Wade, after 50 years of trying – they worked for 50 years. I’ve never seen anything like it. They worked – and I was even – I was so honored to have done it. We are in a very good negotiating position right now, only because of what I was able to do.
And remember this, again, you talk about radicalism. People that will kill a baby in the ninth month or the eighth month or the seventh month, or after the baby is born, they’re the radicals, not the pro-life people.
The former president has said he supports exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother.
Katherine Hamilton is a political reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow her on Twitter @thekat_hamilton.