Former Vice President Mike Pence on Friday challenged the complete 2024 Republican presidential field to support a national abortion ban at 15 weeks, demanding that the party go farther than its primary front-runner, former President Donald J. Trump, has to this point been willing to go.
“The reason behind life is the calling of our time, and we must not rest and must not relent until we restore the sanctity of life to the middle of American law in every state,” Mr. Pence said on Friday in a speech on the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference, a significant evangelical gathering in Washington D.C. He added, “Every Republican candidate for president should support a ban on abortion before 15 weeks at least nationwide standard.”
That may be a line that Mr. Trump has to this point resisted embracing whilst he has taken credit for appointing the Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade a yr ago.
The previous president’s rivals, including Mr. Pence and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, see abortion as providing a political opening on Mr. Trump’s right flank and a probability to appeal to key evangelical voters.
Mr. DeSantis recently signed a six-week abortion ban in Florida that Mr. Trump said some within the anti-abortion movement considered “too harsh.” Each Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Pence have seized on that phrase to criticize the previous president.
In an indication of the unquestioned sway that Christian conservatives are expected to have within the party’s primaries, the Faith and Freedom Coalition gathering is the primary occasion to attract the highest candidates for the Republican nomination to the identical event. Evangelicals are an especially large voting bloc in two of the early voting states, Iowa and South Carolina.
Seven Republican candidates are set to handle the gathering within the windowless ballroom of the Washington Hilton on Friday, including Mr. DeSantis. Mr. Trump will headline a night gala on Saturday. The 2-day gathering coincides with the primary anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.
“Thank God almighty for the Dobbs decision,” Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, one other Republican presidential candidate, said on Friday.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly avoided taking a transparent stance on whether he would support a national abortion ban that may curb access to abortion even in Democratic-controlled states. In his CNN town hall earlier this yr, Mr. Trump said he would strike some sort of undefined deal on abortion if he was returned to the White House. “What I’ll do is negotiate so persons are joyful,” Mr. Trump said at one point. “Make a deal that’s going to be good,” he said at one other.
Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, told reporters after his own speech on Friday that a 15-week ban was a “consensus position.”
“The deal should be 15 weeks,” Mr. Hawley said. “There, made it easy.”
Mr. Pence received a polite reception within the familiar crowd, but there was notably louder applause for his statement that Mr. Biden mustn’t ever been re-elected than his own declaration that he was running for president. And the applause was even louder when he vowed, “We are going to end the gender ideology that’s running rampant in our schools,” as transgender politics have emerged as a number one motivator on the suitable.
“God is real, unborn life is life, there are two genders,” Vivek Ramaswamy, one other Republican candidate for president, said in his speech on Friday.
The uphill battle for Mr. Trump’s rivals, nonetheless, was apparent throughout.
Chris Christie, the previous governor of Recent Jersey, was booed by the gang as he criticized Mr. Trump and the previous president’s penchant for blaming aides for his own shortcomings. “That will not be leadership, everybody,” he said, “That may be a failure of leadership.”
The gang hissed, with some shouting “We love Trump!”
“You possibly can love him all you wish, but I can inform you, doing that form of thing makes our country smaller,” Mr. Christie retorted.
Earlier, when Mark Robinson, the lieutenant governor of North Carolina who’s running for governor, made a surprise endorsement onstage of Mr. Trump, he was greeted by a deafening ovation as loud or louder than any that Mr. Trump’s rivals had received.
“This nation is at war,” Mr. Robinson said. “We’d like a warrior.”