Apr 8, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump’s abortion stance soothes vulnerable House Republicans

Former President Trump, wearing a blue suit, white shirt and red tie, speaks at a rally in front of supporters and American flags.

Former President Trump at a rally in Wisconsin on April 2, 2024. Photo: Daniel Steinle/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

Former President Trump found himself winning praise from an unusual cadre on Monday with his position on abortion: swing-district House Republicans.

Why it matters: The former president stopped short of endorsing a federal abortion ban and said the issue should be left up to the states.

  • That gives Republicans further down the ballot room to break with anti-abortion groups by supporting exceptions and later cutoffs for abortion restrictions without opposing their party's likely nominee.

Driving the news: Trump said in a video posted to Truth Social on Monday that "now that we have abortion where everybody wanted it from a legal standpoint, the states will determine by vote or legislation or perhaps both."

What they're saying: "Maybe the most helpful thing he's done in a while - smart," one swing-district House Republican told Axios on the condition of anonymity.

  • "Translate: No federal ban. Always exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother," the lawmaker added.
  • Asked about the video, Rep. John Duarte (R-Calif.) reiterated his position that "abortion policy should be left to states. I support access to first trimester abortion."

Between the lines: Abortion has been an electoral boon to Democrats and a difficult needle for Republicans to thread since Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022.

Zoom in: Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), who has criticized the GOP's embrace of anti-abortion policies – while occasionally supporting them – couched her recent embrace of Trump in those terms.

  • "One of the reasons I supported him in the primary was [because] he was the best candidate on women's issues. More aligned with me than the others," she told Axios.
  • "It's very important to me as a woman and as a mom that we have a president who gets it … Republicans cannot ignore the elephant in the room."

The other side: Some Democrats cautioned not to take Trump at face value given his trademark inconsistency. "Let's wait a few weeks and see what his new position will be," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

  • The Biden campaign launched an ad reminding voters that it was Trump-appointed justices who helped overturn Roe v. Wade.
  • "Trump is directly responsible for ripping reproductive freedom away from millions of Americans. He appointed the far-right judges who overturned Roe," said Rep. Pat Ryan (D-N.Y.).
  • "The American people can see through his BS. There should be no doubt: reproductive freedom is at stake in every single state, and I will fight like hell to protect it."
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