DeSantis largely avoids abortion at anti-abortion group gala

“We believe everyone matters, everyone is special, and our Heartbeat Protection Act shows that we say what we mean and mean what we say,” DeSantis said, referring to the six-year ban. weeks that he recently enacted. “And this is historic law for this state and I was pleased to be able to sign this provision into law in April.”

He added: “But we also understand that there is still a lot to do.”

Yet DeSantis’ reluctance to expand on the topic was the latest sign of the tightrope he’s walking on abortion — eager to make inroads with conservatives in the GOP primary, but wary of alienating moderates for whom access to abortion has become a major concern.

“It cuts one way in the primary and the caucus, and another way in the general. That’s the problem,” said Doug Gross, a Republican operative who was chief of staff to former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, ahead of DeSantis’ speech on Friday.

While the six-week ban is popular among Republicans in Iowa, Gross said, “if you go into the general, a six-week ban will be considered extreme. So that’s a problem for him. Even Trump understands that. That’s why he’s trying to rest on his Supreme Court laurels and not talk about specifics. That’s no way to win over a general. [election.]”

The abortion access debate is quickly shaping the Republican presidential primary — as DeSantis and Donald Trump, normally politically in tune, run from each other on the issue. DeSantis is seeking to appeal to the influential evangelical Christian base in the nation’s first caucus state of Iowa, while Trump has criticized DeSantis’ six-week ban as “too harsh.” in a recent interview — a quick remark from the Governor of Florida refuted.

“We understand how important family is,” DeSantis said Saturday. “We understand how important it is for parents in this state to be able to raise their children in a healthy environment. And we worked very hard to make sure that our public policy made Florida the best place in the United States to raise a family,” DeSantis said Saturday night, referring to his own wife and three young children.

He said he has provided “unprecedented support” for single mothers, while his wife, Casey DeSantis, has embarked on an initiative to help young mothers with the help of local churches and businesses.

But DeSantis has been relatively quiet on abortion — only mentioning the law in the middle of his long stump speech. And on Saturday, he did not discuss the issue more directly or in more depth as he delivered his usual remarks focused on his electoral success in what was once a swing state, his ongoing fight with Disney and his clashes with Democrats over the gender identity discussion. in public schools.

Jeremy Redfern, the Governor’s spokesman, said: ‘He covered his entire policy agenda, including the Heartbeat Protection Act. I suggest you go watch it again.

The speech came as DeSantis is positioning himself to win primary support from voters who want tough limits on abortion — an influential bloc in early Iowa caucuses.

Earlier this month, DeSantis and his wife dined in Tallahassee with Bob Vander Plaats, president of The Family Leader, an influential conservative Christian organization in Iowa. In 2008, Vander Plaats worked for Mike Huckabee, which won the Iowa caucus but lost the primary. Four years later he supported Rick SantorumWHO narrowly won the Hawkeye State vote despite losing the nomination to Mitt Romney. And in 2016, The Family Leader — under the direction of Vander Plaat — supported Ted Cruz, another first caucus state winner who ended up losing the Republican primary.

Vander Plaats has yet to endorse a 2024 White House candidate. But he made his appreciation for DeSantis clear, including on social media last week – a contrast with dissatisfaction he expressed towards Trump following the ex-president blame disappointing GOP midterm results on “the abortion issue.”

But if DeSantis’ far-right stance on abortion helps him with cultural conservatives, a string of recent elections and public polls suggest he’s likely to be toxic in a general election.

Democrats have already announced their intention to make it a major issue in the race in 2024. President Joe Biden has repeatedly referenced abortion in his video announcing his re-election campaign. In DeSantis Florida, a coalition led by Planned Parenthood is working to get enough signatures for a ballot measure next year overturning the six-week ban.

If DeSantis wasn’t leaning heavily on abortion on Saturday night, the crowd at the Rosen Plaza Hotel didn’t seem to care – applauding his remarks about “freedom” in Florida, his electoral success in the state and more red meat issues for the GOP base.

“He’s not one person to one subject,” said Susan Chess, 65, executive director of Treasure Coast’s Care Net Pregnancy Services. “It’s what I wanted and what I expected and I think he represents us well.”


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