Trump bashes DeSantis for signing heartbeat abortion ban: It's 'too harsh'

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gives a victory speech after defeating Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rep. Charlie Crist during his election night watch party at the Tampa Convention Center on November 8, 2022, in Tampa, Florida. DeSantis was the projected winner by a double-digit lead. | Octavio Jones/Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump has denounced Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ recent signing of a law that bans most abortions after a baby's heartbeat is detected, which is often around six weeks into a pregnancy, claiming that many believe it was “too harsh.”

In an interview with The Messenger, Trump, who is seeking the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 2024, was asked to comment on potential Republican primary rival DeSantis’ signing of a heartbeat abortion ban.

“He has to do what he has to do,” Trump asserted. “If you look at what DeSantis did, a lot of people don’t even know if he knew what he was doing. But he signed six weeks, and many people within the pro-life movement feel that that was too harsh.”

Former U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to address the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on March 4, 2023, in National Harbor, Maryland. Conservatives gathered at the four-day annual conference to discuss the Republican agenda. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

When asked if he supported the idea of a heartbeat abortion ban, Trump replied that he was “looking at all alternatives,” and boasted of being key to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the controversial 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. 

When the Supreme Court overturned Roe last year via the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling, three of the justices who formed the majority opinion — Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch — were appointed by Trump. The Dobbs decision declared that the U.S. Constitution does not contain a right to abortion and enabled each state to craft its own laws pertaining to abortion. 

“I was able to get us to the table by terminating Roe v. Wade. That’s the most important thing that’s ever happened for the pro-life movement,” Trump told The Messenger.

The Trump campaign has faced criticism from pro-life leaders for suggesting that abortion policy should be decided solely at the state level following the Dobbs decision. Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser denounced the implication that bans on elective abortion should only be at the state level.

“Life is a matter of human rights, not states’ rights. Saying that the issue should only be decided at the states is an endorsement of abortion up until the moment of birth, even brutal late-term abortions in states like California, Illinois, New York and New Jersey,” stated Dannenfelser.

“The only way to save these children is through federal protections, such as a 15-week federal minimum standard when the unborn child can feel excruciating pain,” she added. Dannenfelser’s organization launched a $52 million campaign to help reelect Trump in early 2020.

Weighing on his potential rivalry with DeSantis, Trump contended to The Messenger that DeSantis would be “very disloyal” if he ran in 2024 since the former president had endorsed DeSantis in the Republican primary when he was running for governor in 2018.

“He was dead, dead as a doornail. And I revived him,” Trump said. “I’m a loyal person. If that happened to me, I would never run against the guy that did that.”

“He’s got plenty of years left. And I think if he runs, he’s gonna lose MAGA votes forever. That’s my opinion. And the MAGA votes are almost everything in the Republican Party, far bigger than you think.”

Although DeSantis has not officially announced his campaign, the RealClearPolitics average of polls sampling voter preferences in the Republican presidential primary shows DeSantis as the second most popular candidate or potential candidate seeking the Republican nomination. An average of polls taken from April 21 to May 5 shows Trump with 55.0% support and DeSantis securing 20.7%, with all other declared and potential candidates listed failing to make it out of the single digits. 

Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter or Facebook

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