(WASHINGTON) — A robust field of 2024 Republican presidential hopefuls descend upon Washington on Friday and Saturday for one of the first multi-candidate cattle calls of the primary cycle, with their positions on abortion expected to be a prime focus.
The gathering — billed as one of the largest forums for conservative and Christian activists, will coincide with the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court stripping away the constitutional right to abortion in the landmark case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
The Road to Majority Conference, the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s annual gathering of conservatives, will feature former President Donald Trump, along with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Tim Scott, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, talk show host Larry Elder, and other Republican notables.
On Friday and Saturday, the slate of candidates will likely address abortion in the context of the Dobbs anniversary. The remarks may differ, however, reflective of the various positions the group has taken around the issue.
Abortion, which won big on many ballot measures during the 2022 midterms, is often cited as the reason for so many Republican windfalls last November. The GOP took a decisive stance against the practice ahead of the elections and have eased significantly around the topic ahead of the 2024 race.
The former president has taken credit for nominating Supreme Court justices who delivered the Dobbs decision but also says “It was the ‘abortion issue'” that lost large numbers of voters during the midterms. In May during a CNN Town Hall, Trump said he was able to pull off what other Republican presidents couldn’t but again wavered around the issue.
“Deals are being made. Deals are going to be made,” Trump told a voter.
On whether he would sign legislation imposing a 15-week federal ban on abortion, Trump repeatedly wouldn’t answer.
“What I’ll do is negotiate so that people are happy,” he said.
At “the nation’s premier pro-faith, pro-family event,” Trump is expected to be the keynote speaker at the “Patriot Gala” on Saturday.
Other contenders, including DeSantis, Scott and Haley, have been vague about how they’d address the issue as president.
Pence — most audacious in his support of abortion among the 2024 field — is expected to be vocal in his remarks over his support for the issue. He’ll also be a speaker at the National Celebrate Life Day Rally, co-hosted by 40 Days for Life, Live Action, and the Pro-Life Partners Foundation, on Saturday at the Lincoln Memorial.
Faith & Freedom’s Iowa Coalition held its first gathering of candidates and potential hopefuls back in April, when most of the current field had not been announced yet. At the time, announced presidential candidates included Hutchinson, Ramaswamy and Johnson, who addressed the Clive, Iowa crowd. Trump addressed the crowd virtually.
Pence and Scott spoke, also — both were at that point expected to announce 2024 runs.
Then, topics spanned from preserving religious liberty to banning abortion in the country. They also spoke out against radical gender ideology.
At the time, Trump did not address his March indictment, but said he was the “most pro-life president” in American history for appointing the U.S. Supreme Court justices that he said led to the Dobbs decision.
“Those justices delivered a landmark victory for protecting innocent life,” Trump said. “Nobody thought it was going to happen, they thought it was going to be another 50 years because Republicans had been trying to do it for exactly, at that period of time, 50 years.”
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