Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa on Tuesday attacked former President Donald J. Trump for his criticism of restrictive abortion legislation, highlighting a potential weakness for Trump in her state just months before the Iowa caucuses.
During an interview broadcast Sunday, Trump called the six-week abortion ban signed by his main rival in the polls, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a “Terrible thing.” Governor Reynolds signed a similar law in Iowa this summer.
“It is never a ‘terrible thing’ to protect innocent lives,” she wrote on X, the site formerly known as Twitter, adding that she was “proud” of the state’s six-week ban, known among conservatives as a “heartbeat” bill. She did not refer to Trump, who was visiting Iowa on Wednesday, by name, but what she meant was clear.
Mrs. Reynolds, a popular Republican in her home state, came under attack for Trump this summer after saying he would not endorse the Iowa caucuses, although he has appeared at several campaign events. alongside Mr. DeSantis. Criticizing her and Iowa’s abortion ban represents a risk for Trump, the clear favorite in the race, since doing so could anger evangelical Christian voters who are highly influential in the state’s Republican caucuses, scheduled for early next year. .
The conflict over abortion could also provide an opportunity for DeSantis before the Republican debate, which Trump will skip, next week. Florida’s governor and his allies have pilloried Trump’s comments, especially his declaration that he would strike a deal with Democrats on abortion, and DeSantis may continue that line of criticism in the debate, at the Library and Museum Presidential Ronald Reagan in California.
“I think all pro-lifers should know that he is preparing to betray them.” Mr. DeSantis said in an interview Monday with RadioIowa. Relatively few religious leaders and elected officials have openly criticized Trump for his comments, reflecting how unwilling many have been to challenge the man who retains the loyalty of much of the Republican base.
The nomination race has entered a new phase since Labor Day, with the Iowa caucuses just four months away. While Trump has consolidated support among Republican voters after four criminal indictments this year, his rivals Now they are looking to change careers.
While Republicans privately generally described Trump’s attack on DeSantis as an unforced error in Iowa, few religious leaders have openly criticized the former president. But comments from Ms Reynolds and Mr Kemp have reinforced their comments as a problem.
A spokesman for Ms. Reynolds declined to comment. The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Few women know they are pregnant at six weeks. Abortion rights supporters say those early bans amount to a near-total ban.
Trump has long seemed uncomfortable talking about abortion in the context of Republican politics, as a former Democrat who once favored abortion rights. However, he and his advisers are increasingly looking beyond the primaries to the general election. Trump said privately in 2022, before the election, that repealing Roe v. Wade, made possible by the conservative majority he appointed to the Supreme Court, would hurt Republican candidates in the 2022 midterm elections.
This year, Trump has so far dodged questions about whether he would support a 15-week federal abortion ban, which is the baseline many anti-abortion activists have set for Republican candidates. But he still leads widely in primary polls. Many Republican voters seem willing to let Trump overlook the issue because of his role in overturning Roe.
Although DeSantis signed six-week abortion ban In Florida this year, he also has not supported a six- or 15-week federal ban.
At a gathering of Christian conservatives in Des Moines on Saturday, DeSantis was asked if he supported a federal ban on abortion. According to his past statements, he did not give a direct answer.
“I think the states have done the best job so far,” he said. “Congress has really struggled to make a meaningful impact over the years.”
She then spoke about her efforts in Florida to help mothers and pregnant women.
Other candidates, such as former Vice President Mike Pence, they have come out strong in favor of a ban of at least 15 weeks. Former Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina has taken a more nuanced approachsaying that Republicans will find it impossible to force such a bill through the Senate.
In Iowa, the six-week ban is not actually, while awaiting a ruling from the State Supreme Court. Ms. Reynolds signed a similar bill in 2018, but the measure did not become law. after a court challenge.
The abortion situation in Florida is also waiting for a decision of the Supreme Court of that state.