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Has Trump Cracked the Code on Abortion?

As we have noted many times, 2024 is shaping up to be the "year of abortion" in politics. That means that every candidate is going to need to have an answer to questions about that subject, particularly presidential candidates like... Donald Trump.

There are three assertions that appear unimpeachable to us: (1) In private, Trump is pro-choice (and has probably paid for an abortion or two in his time); (2) to win election, he needs the votes of some meaningful number of people who are pro-choice; and (3) his base includes many staunch anti-abortion partisans. Thus far, in his political career, Trump has managed to largely avoid the issue, but that is not likely to be plausible going forward. So, we've been watching carefully to see what his tack is going to be.

At his rally this weekend, Trump may have given a preview of his plan. Here is what he said:

Last year, those justices bravely and incredibly ruled on something that everybody has wanted for decades, for 51 years. They ruled to end Roe v. Wade. That was a big thing. And it's probably cost us politically because the other side got energized. You know, they're the radicals, not the pro-lifers. But now pro-lifers have a tremendous power to negotiate.

This was well received by the crowd.

Let's review what Trump managed to squeeze into those 60 or so words:

  1. He's pleased by the "brave" Dobbs decision. That's the only plausible position for him to take.

  2. He and his base were victimized by those infernal radical liberal commies after the decision came down. This fits in with his general theme of martyrdom.

  3. The disastrous-for-Republicans midterm elections? Not his fault. The fault of those aforementioned liberal commies, and the unfortunate price of the anti-abortionists' big victory.

  4. The path forward? Trump's skills as a negotiator.

This playbook would not work for any other Republican. In particular, no other Republican would be allowed to say that their position on future abortion legislation is "we're going to negotiate (and win)," particularly if they are, in truth, a terrible negotiator. But the base still believes in The Donald (a.k.a. the wildly successful tycoon character created for The Apprentice), so this approach might very well work for him. Undoubtedly, other politicians are jealous that they cannot wave away tricky issues by saying "we'll negotiate," but it's really their fault for never starring on a reality TV program. (Z)

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