Women's Group Wants Trump To Better Articulate His Pro-Life Stance
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Today, Donald Trump speaks at a gathering of conservative activists at the Road to Majority conference. That's here in Washington. Co-sponsoring the event is a group called Concerned Women for America. It's the largest women's public policy group in the country. And its CEO and president is Penny Young Nance. She told me she is trying to come to terms with the candidate who's record on her hot button issue, abortion, is far from clear. I started by playing her this 1999 clip of Trump on "Meet The Press."
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DONALD TRUMP: I'm very pro-choice. I hate the concept of abortion. I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I listen to people debating the subject. But you still - I just believe in choice.
KELLY: So there's Donald Trump, firmly pro-choice back in 1999. He now says he's pro-life. This spring, you will remember, Mr. Trump talking about how he would outlaw abortion and that women who receive abortions - if the procedure becomes illegal - that women would face punishment. Here's him talking about that issue, taking questions on MSNBC.
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CHRIS MATTHEWS: Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no, as a principle?
TRUMP: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.
MATTHEWS: For the woman?
TRUMP: Yeah, there has to be some form.
TRUMP: I don't know. That I don't know.
PENNY YOUNG NANCE: Painful to listen to.
KELLY: I was going to ask.
NANCE: Painful to listen to. And I'm not sure exactly what he was trying to do there. But he did walk it back, by the way, I think pretty quickly, which is rare for him (laughter). Maybe we should be happy about that.
KELLY: It prompts again the question, though. What is his policy on abortion?
NANCE: Yeah. Well, that's right. And, you know, what I would say is if he knew us better, he would know that we agree with Frederica Mathewes-Green who says, you know, that a woman doesn't want an abortion like she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion like an animal who gnaws off his own leg when it's caught in a trap. It's an act of violence. And we believe that women who choose abortion are absolutely desperate. And if he knew us better, he would've know that...
KELLY: Us meaning conservative women?
NANCE: Us conservative, pro-life women. He would have known how to answer that question. Let me just tell you that Ronald Reagan changed his mind about abortion. We don't have a problem with people changing their minds as long as they change it our way and believe in life, right, and then stick to it.
KELLY: What would he need to say to win your vote, to persuade you?
NANCE: Well, listen, I'm conservative. He has my vote. The question is what will I do to help him get elected? Concerned Women for America members - we're the foot soldiers in any kind of a campaign. We're the women that are going door to door for the candidate of our choice. And I've done this - stuffed flyers underneath the windshield wipers in the local Catholic church the Sunday before Election Day - until we're run off by the priest, by the way. And we're the people that, you know, phonebank for hours.
Every campaign needs that. You can hire it a little bit. But you need those passionate supporters who will do the hard work to get you elected. And, you know, maybe Donald Trump doesn't know he needs that yet, but he's going to figure out pretty quickly. He's a smart guy, I think he probably already knows. And so that's the question. He has my vote. But will I work to turn out our members?
KELLY: Be shoving flyers under windshield wipers for him...
NANCE: Well, we - what will we do? Are we going to put our babies in strollers and go door to door for him? And you know what? He's got to win our hearts to get us to do that.
KELLY: And what will it take to win your hearts?
NANCE: For me, I need to hear him clearly articulate conservative positions on key issues. And course of number one for us is the life issue.
KELLY: Have you met him?
NANCE: Not yet.
KELLY: What would you say to him if you did?
NANCE: It depends on how long I have...
NANCE: ...Because I have a lot to say. I think - you know what? This is one thing I really would like to say to him, is he talked about forgiveness. He had taken the cracker and, you know, the grape juice or wine or whatever it was but he never really asked for forgiveness from God. And I think I'd love to talk to him about redemption and the fact that we're all broken. And we all need redemption. And if he doesn't know that yet, he needs to learn that.
KELLY: Penny Young Nance is CEO and president of Concerned Women for America. She's also author of the new book "Feisty And Feminine: A Rallying Cry For Conservative Women." Thanks again.
NANCE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.