Donald Trump is describing himself as pro-life as he courts Republican support for a potential presidential bid – a complete reversal of his position on abortion during a previous flirtation with a White House run.
Trump could not be immediately reached, but his special counsel, Michael Cohen, said the celebrity businessman was entitled to change his mind.
“People change their positions all the time, the way they change their wives,’’ said Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization and the founder of a website called ShouldTrumpRun.com. “What you stood for 11 years ago you may not be standing for today. Maybe it was the birth of his five children or his grandchild that changed his mind.’’
Trump surprised a crowd of thousands of conservative activists on Thursday when he declared he was “pro-life’’ during an unscheduled appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
He reiterated that in an interview with Greta Van Susteren of Fox News on Monday. “I believe strongly in just about all conservative principles,’’ Trump said. “I’m pro-life. I think that's a big social issue.’’
Trump took the opposite position in 1999, when he considered running for president as a Reform Party candidate:
- He raised the issue in the fall of that year when he announced on NBC’s Meet the Press that he was quitting the Republican Party. "I hate the concept of abortion, but I am strongly pro-choice," Trump said, adding that he would not favor a ban on so-called partial-birth abortion.
- He also told Fox News Sunday: "I'm totally pro-choice. I hate it and I hate saying it. And I'm almost ashamed to say that I'm pro-choice, but I am pro-choice because I think we have no choice.’’
- "I want to see the abortion issue removed from politics," he told reporters in December 1999. "I believe it is a personal decision that should be left to the women and their doctors."
In 1989, Trump co-sponsored a dinner honoring a leader of the National Abortion Rights Action League in New York, though he did not attend the event.
Trump's been as fickle on his party affiliation as he has been on abortion: According to the New York Daily News, he registered as a Republican in New York in 1987, then switched to the Independence Party in 1999. At some subsequent point, he became a Democrat before switching back to the Republican Party in 2009.