Politico

Roe reversal divides 2024 GOP field


Republicans eyeing a presidential bid in 2024 all agreed: Friday’s reversal of Roe v. Wade is a landmark victory for the conservative cause.

Where they parted ways is over how far the GOP should go to end abortion in America.

Mike Pence set the bar. He called for a nationwide ban on abortion, though notably did not say Washington should enact it.

“Now that Roe v. Wade has been consigned to the ash heap of history, a new arena in the cause of life has emerged and it is incumbent on all who cherish the sanctity of life to resolve that we will take the defense of the unborn and support for women in crisis pregnancies to every state Capitol in America,” the former vice president and staunch social conservative declared on Twitter. “Having been given this second chance for Life, we must not rest and must not relent until the sanctity of life is restored to the center of American law in every state in the land.”

Though Pence did not advocate for Congress enacting a federal abortion ban, his “every state in the land” language gave Democrats the opening to argue that the GOP wants to eradicate abortion rights completely. Speaker Nancy Pelosi promptly did precisely that, accusing Republicans of “plotting a nationwide abortion ban.”

Other Republicans weighing 2024 bids, including the former president himself, Donald Trump, avoided rhetoric that could be construed as proposing a national abortion ban. Privately, per The New York Times, Trump stewed in the leadup to Friday’s ruling that overturning Roe would hurt Republicans among suburban women in the midterms.

Publicly, he congratulated himself for delivering on one of his original vows to the conservative movement if it elected him in 2016.

“Today’s decision, which is the biggest WIN for LIFE in a generation, along with other decisions that have been announced recently, were only made possible because I delivered everything as promised, including nominating and getting three highly respected and strong Constitutionalists confirmed to the United States Supreme Court,” Trump said in a statement. “It was my great honor to do so! I did not cave to the Radical Left Democrats, their partners in the Fake News Media, or the RINOs who are likewise the true, but silent, enemy of the people.”

Other potential 2024 GOP hopefuls cast the decision as an opportunity for states to work their wills on an issue of profound morality. Missing from their comments on Friday, however, was any reference to Trump or his work to appoint conservative justices.


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who would be a top early contender in a Republican presidential primary, hasn’t said publicly whether he wants to further restrict abortion access, but supports enforcing the state’s existing restrictions, which he signed into law this spring. Some state GOP leaders have already shown an interest in going beyond Florida’s new 15-week law.

“Florida will continue to defend its recently-enacted pro-life reforms against state court challenges, will work to expand pro-life protections, and will stand for life by promoting adoption, foster care and child welfare,” DeSantis said in a statement.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), said he thinks it would only be appropriate to consider federal legislation “where there is a national consensus,” citing wide opposition to abortions in the third trimester, for example.

“I’d like to see a day where there are no abortions in America except for preserving the life of the mother and rape and incest, but that will be, I think, in the first instance, up to voters in the states,” Hawley said on a Friday call with reporters.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) who also identifies as anti-abortion, has sought to strike a relatively moderate tone on the issue in recent months — doing so not just as a prospective presidential candidate but as the person responsible for ensuring Republicans win enough Senate seats this November to take back the majority. The National Republican Senatorial Committee chair has downplayed the notion of a national abortion ban, saying he thinks most people favor “reasonable” restrictions and exceptions when it comes to abortion.

In his statement Friday, the former Florida governor praised the Supreme Court’s decision, which he said “defended human dignity and the foundational principle of federalism.”

Though he has endorsed 15-week abortion prohibitions, his statement Friday did not propose further sweeping bans. Instead, he signaled an interest in passing legislation to reduce the burden of carrying a pregnancy to term.

“Lawmakers and the pro-life movement have the responsibility to make adoption more accessible and affordable, and do everything in our power to meet the needs of struggling women and their families so they can choose life,” Scott said in his statement.

It’s an emerging theme in the Republican Party, and one being championed by other potential GOP presidential candidates as state-level party leaders are increasingly restricting women’s access to abortion — policy decisions most Republicans in Washington applaud.

“We’ve also got to be really serious about putting together as conservatives … an economic policy that allows families to support themselves in this country,” Hawley said, adding he also supports “reform of adoption laws.”

Florida’s senior senator, Marco Rubio, said he would lead the charge in Congress to allocate more government resources to low-income pregnant women.

“But we must not only continue to take steps to protect the unborn, we must also do more to support mothers and their babies,” Rubio said. “I will soon introduce a bill to ensure we do everything we can to give every child the opportunity to fully access the promise of America.”

That legislation, Rubio said last month, could include expanding the child tax credit for working families, allowing new parents to draw from their Social Security savings and increasing SNAP funding for low-income mothers.

Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and past governor of South Carolina, said the decision “puts the debate back where it belongs — at the state level, closest to the people.” Haley also teased a platform that would provide additional support to pregnant women.

“My hope is that there is a renewed commitment from elected lawmakers to support and protect mothers and their pre-born babies,” Haley said.


Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican whose decisive victory in the state’s November election portended a midterm year of potential GOP upsets in traditionally blue states, hasn’t publicly ruled out a run for president. After news of the ruling Friday, Youngkin announced he was pursuing legislation to ban abortions after 15 weeks, leaving exceptions for rape, incest and the woman’s life.

But in an interview shortly after the news broke, Youngkin was careful to say he wanted bipartisan buy-in for a new abortion law, suggesting a compromise of 20 weeks might be more palatable for some and telling the Washington Post he was in office to “represent all Virginians.”

“There is a place we can come together,” Youngkin said, signaling he was open to compromise on the issue.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) dismissed the notion that Friday’s ruling — which allows abortion bans in more than a dozen states to take effect — was the end of access to abortion.

“And while the left manically argues that the Dobbs decision makes abortion illegal throughout the country, that is false,” Cruz said in a statement. “What this decision does is leave abortion policy up to the states and returns power to the American people — which is exactly how questions of abortion were handled before Roe.”

Blue-state Republican governors who’ve teased presidential runs were quiet after the ruling. Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland did not immediately release a statement, while Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire issued a short remark: “Regardless of this Supreme Court decision, access to these services will continue to remain safe, accessible, and legal in New Hampshire.”

Last year, Sununu signed into law a ban on abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Marianne LeVine and Gary Fineout contributed to this report.

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