Former President Donald Trump made only passing, indirect references to abortion Friday night at his first rally since a leaked draft of a Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade sent Democrats and Republicans scrambling to fine tune their messaging on the issue ahead of the midterms.
In a roughly 80-minute speech outside Pittsburgh to rally support for Senate GOP candidate Mehmet Oz, Trump did not dive into the debate like he did with topics such as immigration and critical race theory.
Instead, he briefly mentioned how Republicans “will protect innocent life” and later said the three Supreme Court justices he nominated are “making a very big decision now.”
The court is not expected to issue its final ruling until June or July in a Mississippi case that directly challenges constitutional protections for abortion, but the leaked draft opinion has had an immediate effect on the battle for control of Congress in the November midterm elections. Republicans have mostly focused their remarks on the leak itself, while Democrats are trying to energize voters by making abortion a top campaign issue.
Trump was asked about the draft opinion in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network earlier this week, saying “a lot of people are very happy” that the Supreme Court appears poised to strike down the 1973 decision that held the Constitution protected abortion rights.
“Some people maybe say it’s my fault. And some people say, ‘Thank you very much,’” he added during the interview.
Trump, with the help of a GOP-led Senate, successfully seated three justices on the Supreme Court during his presidency, establishing a 6-3 conservative majority.
On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump vowed to nominate anti-abortion judges to the Supreme Court.
“I am pro-life, and I will be appointing pro-life judges,” Trump said during a debate in Las Vegas.
Trump’s avoidance of discussing abortion Friday contrasted with his former running mate’s full-throated embrace of the draft Supreme Court opinion a day earlier.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a 2024 White House bid, praised the draft opinion at length during a speech at the Carolina Pregnancy Center in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
“Roe must go,” Pence proclaimed to applause at a gala event.