Trump Steers Clear Of Abortion, Tennessee Expulsions And Other Major Issues On Campaign Trail—And Talks About Himself Instead

Gun Rights

Topline

Former President Trump has largely avoided commenting on some of the biggest political news stories and GOP talking points in recent campaign appearances—like abortion restrictions, the expulsion of two Tennessee lawmakers or a wave of state-level bills targeting transgender people and drag performers—and has instead spoken about his poll numbers and the investigations into him.

Key Facts

At a speech to top Republican donors in Nashville on Saturday, Trump read positive poll numbers aloud, called for stricter border security, boasted about his accomplishments in office and briefly repeated false claims about the 2020 presidential election, according to the Washington Post.

He completely ignored the topic of abortion, the Post reported, two days after Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), who is expected to challenge Trump for the Republican nomination, signed a six-week abortion ban in his state (Trump has previously said abortion was “poorly handled by many Republicans” during the midterm elections).

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Trump did briefly mention wanting to “keep men out of women’s sports,” a reference to transgender athletes, though it was not a focus of his Saturday remarks, the Post reported.

In a Friday speech at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting—Trump’s first since pleading not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records in Manhattan—the former president spent much of his time speaking about his legal problems, including a suit from New York Attorney General Letitia James, who has also sued the NRA.

During the NRA speech, Trump briefly mentioned recent shootings in Nashville and Louisville, but also said he would direct the Food and Drug Administration to investigate if transgender hormone treatments make people more violent, a reference to the Nashville shooting, which police say was perpetrated by a transgender assailant (despite recent claims by GOP figures, shootings by transgender people are extremely rare).

On his Truth Social platform, Trump has posted messages in the last few days boosting his poll numbers and attacking James, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, President Joe Biden, DeSantis and other foes—but he largely has not weighed in on the national conversation.

Trump has not spoken on Truth Social or in speeches about a paused court ruling to restrict the common abortion drug mifepristone, even though the ruling was written by a judge he appointed, or the two Tennessee Democratic state representatives who were expelled by GOP lawmakers after protesting for gun reform in the wake of the Nashville shooting.

Key Background

Trump is vying for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, aiming to become the second president in U.S. history to serve two non-consecutive terms. He is being challenged by former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and investment firm manager Vivek Ramaswamy. Sen. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) launched a presidential exploratory committee this week, DeSantis is widely expected to announce a presidential run and former Vice President Mike Pence has openly mulled a 2024 run. Trump remains the frontrunner in an increasingly crowded field, leading DeSantis by double-digit margins in most polls while prospective candidates like Pence and Haley remain below 10%.

Tangent

Social Security and Medicare are two topics Trump has focused on, even as he avoids many other hot-button issues. Last month, the former president criticized DeSantis for previously supporting cuts to the popular programs. Some of his other attacks on DeSantis have been less substantive, with a new ad from a Trump-aligned super PAC attacking DeSantis’ record on Social Security and Medicare while focusing on a rumor that DeSantis ate chocolate pudding with his fingers.

Surprising Fact

Trump is not the only major Republican keeping quiet about a Texas judge’s attempt to take away federal approval of mifepristone (the Supreme Court issued a stay on the restrictions on Friday, allowing use of the pill to temporarily continue). House Speaker Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and John Cornyn (R-Tex.), Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and DeSantis did not comment on the court ruling after it was issued.

What To Watch For

Trump is facing criminal charges in Manhattan regarding hush money payments he made to porn star Stormy Daniels while campaigning in 2016—marking the first criminal prosecution of a former president in U.S. history. He also spent nearly eight hours this week answering questions as part of a civil suit in New York brought by James’ office, which alleges he inflated the values of many of his properties and assets. Meanwhile, Trump is being investigated by federal prosecutors over his actions in the leadup to the January 6 riots and his handling of classified documents that were found in his possession after he left office, and state prosecutors in Atlanta are investigating him for actions he took to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia.

Further Reading

Top Republicans—Trump, McCarthy, DeSantis And Greene—All Keep Quiet On Abortion Drug Ban (Forbes)

Trump’s 2024 GOP Competition: Sen. Tim Scott Launches Presidential Exploratory Committee (Forbes)

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