After Donald Trump’s disdain for Ron DeSantis prompted him to declare that he thinks the six-week Florida abortion ban is “terrible,” lots of speculative pieces were written on whether Trump — the man who stocked the Supreme Court with enough uber-conservative, anti-abortion justices to overturn Roe — might actually be moderating on the procedure. My colleague Josh Marshall wrote a handful of ed-blogs unpacking just how silly this news cycle was, and he and Kate Riga got into it on the Josh Marshall Podcast, as well.
In short, the flurry of coverage about Democrats’ supposed concern that Trump may be on his way to steal their electoral carrot or become the new Reasonable Guy on abortion misses two important points: Even low-information voters know who was behind Roe‘s downfall. The only reason we’re discussing gestational bans at all is because Trump’s Court nixed the constitutional right to an abortion.
But it also misses a point that TPM has been harping repeatedly for the past year: Most Republicans are avoiding planting their flag anywhere specific on the issue because the last several elections since Dobbs have demonstrated that supporting abortion restrictions can and will come back to bite them. Trump knows this. He’s just doing his message strategizing in public, instead of behind closed doors in the Senate.
His remark about DeSantis’ six-week ban being “a terrible thing and a terrible mistake” is one example of this. His comment on Michigan Republican Tudor Dixon’s podcast — where he said Republicans must embrace exceptions — is another.
And he did it again last night in Iowa, telling a crowd of supporters that his party needs to learn how to “properly talk about abortion.”
“Without the exceptions, it is very difficult to win elections,” Trump said. “We would probably lose majorities [in Congress] in 2024 without the exceptions, and perhaps the presidency itself.”
When you’re the face of Roe’s overturning, there’s no hiding the ball. He’s not softening on the issue by dissing a six-week ban his rival passed or saying candidly that Americans don’t like restrictions without exceptions, bare minimum.
He’s just doing what Trump does: politically strategizing about universally acknowledged truths out loud, rather than in anonymous quotes.
The Best Of TPM Today
Here’s what you should read this evening:
Yesterday’s Most Read Story
Our Slow-Moving National Crisis Is Far From Over — David Kurtz
What We Are Reading
Analysis: Former justices see no legitimate reason to impeach Janet Protasiewicz — Wisconsin State Journal
How the mighty have fallen: Manchin circulates proposal to reverse Schumer on dress code