Mr Trump spoke at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference on the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health decision. The crowd gave Mr Trump a standing ovation when he referenced the ruling, a long-sought policy outcome of the religious right.
“Exactly one year ago today, those justices were the pivotal votes in the Supreme Court’s landmark decision ending the constitutional atrocity known as Roe v Wade,” he said.
The twice-indicted and twice-impeached former president said that what differentiated him from other presidential candidates who attended the conference was that he actually facilitated the end of the enshrined right to seek an abortion, which had been the law of the land for half a century.
“Conservatives had been trying for 50 years, exactly 50 years,” he said.
The former president gave the closing address at the conference which featured every other Republican presidential candidate, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former vice president Mike Pence, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.
But the former president received the largest applause of any of the candidates, even noting how attendees booed Mr Christie, who has staged a longshot candidacy for president largely to criticise Mr Trump.
Many Republicans have feared that the end of Roe v Wade cost Republicans otherwise winnable elections during the 2022 midterms. Indeed a survey from NBC News found that 61 per cent of voters disapproved of the Dobbs decision.
Mr Trump made his typical attacks on the so-called “radical left”.
“We cannot be afraid to take on the Democratic extremists,” he said. “We have to be strong and powerful. That’s why when I’m re-elected I will continue to fight against the demented late-term abortionist and the Democrat Party who believe in unlimited abortion on demand and even executing babies after birth.”
Mr Trump said he would support exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother. The former president also said that he would seek a federal role on abortion. But the former president did not articulate what federal restrictions he would support.
“One of the reasons they wanted Roe v Wade terminated ... is to bring it back into the states where a lot of people feel strongly the greatest progress for pro-life is now being made,” he said. “There of course remains a vital role for the federal government in protecting unborn life.”
By contrast, Mr Pence, his former vice president, announced his support for a 15-week national abortion ban.
“Some have even gone on to blame the overturning of Roe v Wade for election losses in 2022,” Mr Pence said in his address on Friday. “But let me say from my heart, the cause of life is the calling of our time and we must not rest and must not relent until we restore the sanctity of life to the center of American law in every state in this country.”
Mr Trump has long boasted of how he got three conservative Supreme Court justices on the bench, which paved the way to the end of federal abortion rights. But Mr Trump has also criticised his Republican rivals for being too harsh when it comes to reproductive freedom.
Mr Trump for his part cited numerous policy strides he made on abortion despite the fact that he spent many years as a Democrat who supported abortion rights. In addition, the former president said he would support measures to promote adoption.
“I will ask Congress to expand the adoption tax credit,” he said. “We’ll do that because a lot of people have been adopting and that’s a great thing.”
But Mr Trump received even louder applause when he spoke about restricting transgender girls from participating in girls’ sports. Numerous Republican legislatures and governors, including Mr DeSantis, have passed and signed legislation both restricting transgender girls’ participation in women’s sports and restricting gender-affirming care for minors.
“I will sign into law prohibiting child sexual mutilation in all 50 states,” he said. “And on day one, I will reinstate the Trump ban on transgenders in the military.”
He also went further and said that the federal government would not support gender transition care.
Despite recently being indicted, the former president received numerous applause when he brought up the slew of legal investigations and the recent charges against him. Mr Trump had pleaded not guilty to both criminal indictments against him.
“Every time the radical left Democrats, Marxists communists and fascists indict me, I consider it a great badge of courage,” he said. The former president event attempted to argue that he was a martyr for the evangelical audience.
“I’m getting indicted for you,” he told the crowd.
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