VP hopefuls modify their stance on abortion to more closely align with Trump

VP hopefuls modify their stance on abortion to more closely align with Trump

Abortion continues to be a top issue for voters in an election year.

ByHannah Demissie

Video byJulian Kim and Galen Druke

May 24, 2024, 5:22 AM

    Following former President Donald Trump's announcement in April that he would leave the issue of abortion to the states, effectively saying that he would not sign a national abortion ban, some vice presidential hopefuls have had to walk a fine line when it comes to abortion, with many moderating their stance to fall in line with Trump, whose own stance on abortion has changed.

    This comes following the impact of the Supreme Court's overruled Roe v. Wade in June 2022, allowing states to decide what abortion access would look like. While many states passed legislation to restrict abortion access, other states that had the issue on the ballot saw voters in both red and blue states rejected restrictions to abortion.

    Trump's latest abortion statement came after months of dodging questions about his stance on the specifics of abortion restrictions, avoiding stating whether he supports or opposes a specific number of weeks when it comes to abortion bans. In private conversations with allies and advisers, however, Trump had expressed support for a 16-week national abortion ban with those same exceptions, ABC News reported in February, citing two sources.

    MORE: Trump says abortion should be a states' rights issue, Republicans 'must also win elections'

    PHOTO: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks after a break during his hush money trial at the Manhattan Criminal Court, May 21, 2024, in New York.

    Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks after a break during his hush money trial at the Manhattan Criminal Court, May 21, 2024, in New York.Michael M. Santiago/via Reuters

    Trump -- and any potential running mates -- are working to solidify abortion stances in an election year when abortion and access to it remains a top issue for many voters. An outright abortion ban could be a losing stance for Republicans, and Trump has acknowledged the importance of not alienating voters with his position in order to win elections.

    During his failed presidential run, Tim Scott said he supported a 15-week national abortion ban. Asked in May if he believed the former president was wrong for saying abortion access should be left to the states, Scott did not directly answer the question

    "The Dobbs decisions sent [abortion] back to the states, so the Supreme Court has ruled [and] the leading candidate or Republican nominee has made it very clear that this is a state's issue," Scott said to NBC News.

    PHOTO: Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., speaks during a hearing, March 7, 2024, in Washington.

    Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., speaks during a hearing, March 7, 2024, in Washington.Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    On NBC's Meet the Press recently, Sen. Marco Rubio, who has called himself pro-life and co-sponsored Sen. Lindsey Graham's 15-week national abortion, was asked if he would support a federal abortion ban.

    The Florida Republican danced around the questioning, never directly saying he would support a national abortion ban, but not shutting the idea down.

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    "I'm pro-life, and to me, this is not even a political issue," Rubio said. "I understand this is [political] for a lot of people, and I understand this as a divisive issue in our country, and not everybody shares my views on it. But I believe that human life is worthy of dignity and protection. And I support laws that protect our unborn human life."

    In his new book, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson expressed support for a national ban on abortion, which is the opposite of Trump's current stance on the issue. Asked on CNN on Sunday if he could nudge the former president on abortion, Carson instead touted Trump as a champion of the pro-life movement.

    "President Trump does not like to surround himself with yes people," Carson said. "He likes to have healthy discussions about things and recognize that in terms of saving the lives of unborn, he's done more than any other president. So, I give him much credit for that."

    MORE: Trump walks back comments on restricting contraceptives

    Pressed on whether he thinks Trump is wrong for not supporting a national abortion ban, Carson told CNN's Jake Tapper that he agrees with Trump "shifting" the issue to the states.

    Joel Goldstein, a vice-presidential scholar, told ABC News that these vice presidential hopefuls are trying to "maximize" their chance of being picked by aligning more closely with Trump's perspective.

    "And so that's put a number of them in sort of awkward situations during Sunday talk shows or other such media where they've been pressed to reconcile their articulated positions with [Trump's]," Goldstein said.

    "In vice presidential selection, there's always the challenge of showing that you're politically compatible with the presidential candidate, but by the same token, oftentimes, there is some variation between presidential and vice-presidential candidates, and sometimes it's presented as a good thing."

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