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Former President Trump warned Republicans they will lose elections next year unless they back exceptions to bans on abortion.
“Without the exceptions, it is very difficult to win elections,” he said at a Wednesday rally in Iowa. “We would probably lose majorities [in Congress] in 2024 without the exceptions, and perhaps the presidency itself.”
Trump has been criticized by some other GOP candidates and anti-abortion groups for supporting exceptions to abortion bans for instances of rape, incest and to protect the health of the mother.
Trump said people should “follow your heart” for their position on the issue, but Republicans “have to win elections.” He said the party needs to improve its messaging to make clear that Democrats are “radical” on abortion.
“In order to win in 2024, Republicans must learn how to properly talk about abortion,” he said.
The remarks come after the former president and GOP front-runner slammed the six-week abortion bans that some states have passed during an interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
He specifically said the ban signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is one of his main opponents for the Republican nomination, was a “terrible mistake.”
The comments could be risky in a state like Iowa, which has a strong grassroots conservative base and is the first to have a say in the GOP nominating process. Trump has a major lead in the state over the other candidates in polls, but it is somewhat less significant than that of polls for other states and on the national level.
Trump received pushback from officials like Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), who tweeted “It’s never a ‘terrible thing’ to protect innocent life” and that she is “proud of the fetal heartbeat bill” she signed.
He later sought to clarify his comments and views on the issue in a post on Truth Social in which he emphasized his role in appointing three Supreme Court justices who ultimately were key votes in overturning Roe v. Wade.
“For 52 years, people talked, spent vast amounts of money, but couldn’t get the job done. I got the job done! Thanks to the three great Supreme Court Justices I appointed, this issue has been returned to the States,” Trump said.
He told the rallygoers in Iowa he saw Republican candidates “get clobbered” because they could not talk about abortion “properly,” and the issue cost the party in last year’s midterm elections.
“We have to expose the Democrats … as being the true radicals. They’re the radicals. Pro-lifers aren’t the radicals,” Trump said.
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