Donald Trump, desperately trying to walk back a crystal-clear comment he made about abortion that implied he would leave Roe v. Wade in place, tried to muddy the waters, describing his remarks as “perfect” and slamming the media for misrepresenting his position.
Let’s examine the actual remarks.
Appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation with John Dickerson, Trump opined, “I think it would’ve been better if it were up to the states. But right now, the laws are set. … At this moment, the laws are set. And I think we have to leave it that way.”
Later in the interview, Trump added, “The laws are set now on abortion and that’s the way they’re going to remain until they’re changed.”
The Trump campaign immediately issued a statement trying to clarify Trump’s statements. Campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks, who has had issues with the truth before, stated, “Mr. Trump gave an accurate account of the law as it is today and made clear it must stay that way now — until he is President. Then he will change the law through his judicial appointments and allow the states to protect the unborn. There is nothing new or different here.”
Trump himself offered his usual hyperbolic view of himself, blustering, “What I said was so good, it was so perfect, and then they look, they say, ‘Oh, maybe he should’ve added a word.’ Well actually the way it came out, they took words out that I said.”
Nope. The words were his own, just as all the others he uttered last week, including positing that women who got abortions should be punished, which he explained away by blaming conservatives, whining, “A question was asked to me. And it was asked in a very hypothetical. And it was said, ‘illegal, illegal.’ I’ve been told by some people that was an older line answer and that was an answer that was given on a, you know, basis of an older line from years ago on a very conservative basis.”
“I think we have to leave it that way.”
Trump, on current abortion laws
Parsing Trump’s words to Dickerson, the key word is “we.” In Trump’s first statement, he asserted, “And I think we have to leave it that way.” Unless Trump is using “we” without including himself, a first in the history of the English language (but possible for Someone With A Very Good Brain), that “we” includes him. Thus he is stating that he, along with others, would leave Roe v. Wade in place.
Trump’s later statement is noteworthy for the omission of any personal involvement: “The laws are set now on abortion and that’s the way they’re going to remain until they’re changed.” There is simply no indication in that statement of any action to be taken by Trump himself.