DeSantis has slammed Trump for saying Florida’s abortion ban is “too strict.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday criticized Donald Trump for implying Floridas new six-week abortion ban is “too harsh” and is stepping up his attacks on the former president as he prepares to challenge him for the Republican nomination in 2024.
DeSantis was responding to a question about Trump’s comments in an article published Monday by The Messenger about the six-week ban recently put into effect by the Florida governor. “A lot of people within the pro-life movement think that’s too harsh,” Trump told the online magazine.
DeSantis claimed the law had broad support from anti-abortion advocates, noting that the former president did not say what restrictions he would favor on the process.
“Protecting an unborn child with a detectable heartbeat is something that almost 99% of life advocates support,” DeSantis said at a press conference in Florida, answering questions after he signed an anti-trafficking measure.
“As a Florida resident, he didn’t answer the question, ‘Would you have signed the Florida Heartbeat Act that contained all the exceptions that people are talking about?'” DeSantis added
The rivalry between Trump and DeSantis is heating up as Florida’s governor nears a decision on a 2024 presidential nomination. DeSantis allies believe he will launch his candidacy as early as this week, although an announcement could come later in the month.
Abortion was an early focus in the nascent Republican primary field ahead of the first presidential election since the Supreme Court overthrew Roe v. Wade. The dispute highlights the GOP’s ongoing internal debate over strict abortion restrictions, which while popular in a Republican primary could create problems in a general election for the party’s eventual nominee.
The bill signed by DeSantis last month would ban abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy. It will only take effect if the state’s current 15-week ban is upheld in a legal challenge in the state’s Conservative-controlled Supreme Court.
“Ron DeSantis is doing well in the polls and is closer to bottom than President Trump, who is dominating every single poll,” Trump campaign player Steven Cheung said when asked to respond to DeSantis’s comments. Cheung pointed to an anti-abortion group current characterization of Trump’s presidency as “the most momentous in American history for the cause of life”.
Trump has called himself “the most pro-life president in American history” as his three conservative Justice nominations to the Supreme Court paved the way for a nationwide end to legalized abortion.
But in the early months of his 2024 candidacy, Trump has often sidestepped the issue of abortion, even as Republicans across the country celebrate the Supreme Court decision stripping the federal constitutional rights to the practice.
In March, he repeatedly declined to say in Iowa whether he would support a federal law restricting abortion in all states – a move he did Anti-abortion activists have called for it of the Republican Party’s presidential nominees. “We’re looking at a lot of different things,” he said when asked by The Associated Press if he supported a federal abortion ban.
Last week during a prime-time CNN town hall in New Hampshire, Trump continued to avoid details to a national ban, repeatedly saying he will “do what is right” without specifying what that is.
As DeSantis moves closer to an announcement, he is escalating his criticism of Trump, who has been attacking him directly and through groups supporting his candidacy for months. Last week in Iowa when hazardous weather prevented Trump’s trip to the state of DeSantis highlighted the GOP’s recent string of electoral losses – a clear blow to the former president.
“We must reject the culture of losing that has shaped our party in recent years. The time for excuses is over,” DeSantis said at an event at the Sioux Center. “If we get distracted, if we focus the election on the past or on other side issues, then I think the Democrats will beat us again.”