Sep 27, 2023 - Politics & Policy

DeSantis says Trump needs to defend himself on abortion

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at the second 2024 GOP presidential debate.

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis slammed former President Trump on Wednesday for his recent comments on abortion, saying that he should be at the debate to defend his comments calling Florida's six-week abortion ban "a terrible thing and a terrible mistake."

Why it matters: Abortion has repeatedly been a losing issue for Republicans after the fall of Roe last summer. But the issue remains critical for a substantial part of the party's base, making attacking Trump from the right on abortion a potentially powerful short-term strategy.

Driving the news: "I reject this idea that pro-lifers are to blame for midterm defeats," DeSantis said when asked about the political risks abortion presents in must-win states.

  • Trump "should be here explaining his comments, to try to say that pro-life protections are somehow a terrible thing. I want him to look into the eyes and tell people who have been fighting this fight for a long time."
  • He pointed the finger instead at Democrats' "extremism."

The big picture: Republicans' division over how to handle the topic of abortion continues to plague the party on multiple levels.

  • A House spending bill that would fund the FDA appears to be well short of the votes it needs to pass, Axios reported earlier today, further complicating any path to keeping the government open.
  • The bill contains a measure that would restrict access to abortion pills, a key sticking point.
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