Pence goes after Trump on abortion offstage at conservative conference

In his speech earlier Friday afternoon, Pence told the crowd of conservative activists that, if elected, he will take executive actions to curb abortion in addition to pushing Congress to pass a 15-week ban. He said he would strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood and reverse the Biden administration’s policy allowing military servicemembers to travel for an abortion if they’re stationed in a state where abortion is banned.

Though influential anti-abortion groups including Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America have put forward a 15-week national ban as a litmus test for GOP presidential candidates, many have rejected the idea or refused to state their positions amid the ongoing electoral backlash to the fall of Roe and the proliferation of state restrictions. Though Pence and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) have embraced the 15-week ban — with Pence referring to it Friday as “an idea whose time has come” — both men lag in the polls behind Trump. The GOP presidential field, and the Republican Party overall, remain deeply divided more than a year after Roe v. Wade was overturned on a strategy on abortion, with disagreements over what point in pregnancy to ban the procedure, whether to allow exemptions for rape and whether state or federal officials should decide.

Pence continued to go after Trump by name on Friday — telling reporters that Trump is no longer the anti-abortion champion he once was.

“When Donald Trump ran for president in 2016, he promised to govern as a conservative, and I’m proud to say we did govern as conservatives,” he said. “What I want voters to know is that he makes no such promises today.”

In contrast, Pence argued that when it comes to abortion, he is the consistent conservative in the race.

“What I’m offering Republican, conservative voters today is precisely what we ran on, how we governed and what, frankly, has defined my career.”

Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy will address the Family Research Council conference Friday night.

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