Former President Trump on Friday continued his attack on GOP lawmakers’ messaging on abortion, claiming they don’t know how to “explain it properly.”
“A lot of politicians who are pro-life do not know how to discuss this topic,” Trump told the audience at the Concerned Women of American conference in Washington, D.C. “And they lose their election. We had a lot of election losses because of this because they didn’t know how to discuss it.”
The former president also maintained his belief that while the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson decision last year — which overturned Roe v. Wade and a federal right to abortion — was a major accomplishment, but hurt Republicans because of the rhetoric.
Disappointing 2022 election results, where Republicans failed to win the Senate and secured a much tighter majority than expected in the House, have been blamed on the importance of the abortion rights issue in the months following the Dobbs decision.
“When they do talk about it correctly, it’s an issue that really can be positive because we do have to hold on to office, we do have to win,” Trump continued. “And we can win elections on this issue, but it’s very delicate, and you know, explaining it properly is an extremely important thing. You have to be able to speak and explain it properly.”
“I listen to people talking about it and they don’t know what to say,” he added.
Messaing on abortion rights has been a rife debate within the GOP, especially for 2024 presidential candidates. While some have embraced hard-line anti-abortion rights positions, others have been less clear.
Presidential candidate Nikki Haley, for example, has argued that making abortion rights a banner issue for the 2024 race could scare off suburban women voters, who are more likely to care about the issue.
Much of the discussion is centered on a national abortion ban, federal policy mirroring abortion bans in many conservative states. While Republican candidates like former Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) have both embraced a national policy, others like Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have seemingly avoided the topic altogether.
Trump previously stated that the Dobbs decision was likely a negative for the GOP in 2022 earlier this month.
“It’s probably cost us politically because the other side got energized,” he said at a rally in South Dakota. “You know, they’re the radicals, not the pro-lifers. But now pro-lifers have a tremendous power to negotiate.”
His comments sparked sparked criticism from Pence, who has made abortion one of the most important issues of his campaign.
“The former president actually suggested that we lost elections in the midterms because we overturned Roe v. Wade,” Pence said earlier this month. “I don’t believe that for a second.”
Trump on Friday also took the opportunity to rail against California policies that protect transgender students from parents that do not accept their identities.
The California state government has pushed against policies forcing students to have their transgender identities outed to their parents without their consent. The state has also welcomed minors from other states into California to receive gender-affirming care.
“We will prosecute those involved in this sick California scheme for violating federal laws against kidnapping and sex trafficking,” the former president said. “It’s really sex trafficking, child abuse and a deprivation of civil rights.”
He added that he would also reenact a ban on transgender members of the military.
The moves come as Republicans nationwide increase scrutiny and regulation on transgender people, especially minors, including regulating gender-affirming care and recognition in school.