Trump Says His Controversial Comment About Abortion Was “Excellent”

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

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Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump ignited a firestorm last week when he said that he wants to outlaw abortion and punish women who obtain abortions anyway. He soon clarified his comment, suggesting that women who get abortions should not be penalized. But most recently, he doubled down on his initial statement.

Here’s the chronology: During an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews last Wednesday, Trump said that abortion should be banned and that “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who obtain abortions once they are outlawed. Faced with immediate criticism from both anti-abortion and pro-abortion rights groups, his campaign issued a statement saying that Trump believed that only the abortion provider, not the woman, should be held legally responsible.

But a few days later, on Saturday, Trump essentially reaffirmed his initial comments. His answer to Matthews’ question was “excellent,” Trump told talk radio host Joe Pags, in an interview flagged on Tuesday by the liberal website Right Wing Watch. Here’s the exchange:

TRUMP: A lot of people thought my answer was excellent, by the way. There were a lot of people who thought that was a very good answer. It was a hypothetical question. I didn’t see any big deal and then all of a sudden there was somewhat of a storm. And you know, it’s interesting, this morning I’m hearing two hosts on television that were critical and they said, “We really thought his first answer was very good.” Because you can’t win. “We thought it was good, what was wrong with his first answer?” And I heard a pastor, who is a fantastic pastor, saying, “Well, you know, if you think about it, his first answer was right”…

PAGS: Well, your answer was consistent with conservatism but Chris Matthews has an agenda, so I’m not even wondering about the question because I thought it was loaded and stupid and hypothetical.

TRUMP: It was disgraceful.

PAGS: Why go on the show? Why go?

TRUMP: I heard people defending it today. Now they defend it. Now they say, “It was really right.” The whole thing is just so—look, the press is extremely unfair.

Trump, though, was not done with this subject. The next day, he had yet another position on abortion. He appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation and stated that the current law on abortion should not be changed. Once again, his campaign had to renovate his message. It quickly walked back this statement, asserting that Trump meant the law will remain the same “until he is President.”

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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