Donald Trump danced around the topic of reproductive rights in a new interview, saying that hard-line Republican demands on the issue are a losing strategy and falsely accusing Democrats of being in favor of abortions “after birth.”
The former president tried to distance himself from the GOP’s most vehement opponents of abortion during a wide-ranging interview on this week’s episode of “Meet the Press,” where he said the idea of a federal abortion ban with “no exceptions” is unrealistic and unpopular.
“I think the Republicans speak very inarticulately about this subject,” Trump told NBC’s Kristen Welker in the segment, which aired Sunday. “I watch some of them without the exceptions, et cetera, et cetera.”
“Other than certain parts of the country, you can’t — you’re not going to win on this issue,” he said. “But you will win on this issue when you come up with the right number of weeks.”
Trump did not suggest a specific number, and repeatedly accused Democrats of supporting abortions well into the third trimester of pregnancy or even “after birth.”
In reality, late-term abortions are exceedingly rare. According to 2019 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fewer than 1% of abortions happen after the 21-week mark.
Although Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis falsely claimed in July that “some liberal states actually have post-birth abortions,” researcher Dr. Katherine White debunked his claim with Politifact, telling the site there is “no such thing as a post-birth abortion.”
When Welker asked Trump whether the issue should be decided at the federal or the state level, Trump said: “It could be state, or it could be federal. I don’t frankly care.”
Trump seemed to suggest he could help Republicans and Democrats broker an agreement, telling Welker: “We’re going to agree to a number of weeks or months or however you want to define it.”
“Both sides are going to come together and both sides — both sides, and this is a big statement — both sides will come together,” he said. “And for the first time in 52 years, you’ll have an issue that we can put behind us.”
Trump also discussed his Republican presidential primary opponents and their approach to reproductive rights. He said DeSantis’ six-week abortion ban in Florida is “a terrible thing and a terrible mistake,” and claimed that he’d swayed former Vice President Mike Pence to soften his “no exceptions” stance on the issue.
Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, ending federal protections for abortion, Republicans have been trying to contend with how they should handle the issue electorally in a post-Roe world.
In April, Trump was chastised by the Susan B. Anthony List, a group that opposes abortion rights, for suggesting the issue should be decided at the state level, a position that the group called “morally indefensible.”
Trump responded by taking credit for the Supreme Court’s decision in last year’s landmark Dobbs v. Jackson case.
“Republicans have been trying to get this done for 50 years, but were unable to do so,” campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung told the New York Post. “President Trump, who is considered the most pro-life President in history, got it done.”
Watch Trump’s full interview on “Meet the Press” and read the transcript here.