Donald Trump has been all over the news lately as a potential front-runner for the Republican nomination for President in 2012. In my view, the speculation about Trump’s place in the field is way out of whack with reality. For a variety of reasons, I think his candidacy has little chance of succeeding. That being said, recent polls suggest that he is at the front of the pack of Republican presidential hopefuls. Many have attributed his sudden rise in the polls to his public statements questioning the citizenship of President Obama.
Another reason that his candidacy has more plausibility among some conservatives is his recent conversion to the pro-life point of view. Trump has been trying to make the case for himself to conservatives by contending that he is no longer pro-choice but has now embraced the pro-life cause.
Pro-lifers, beware. Trump’s recent switch to the pro-life position looks more like cynical pandering to a base that he needs in order to win his party’s nomination than a true conversion. I cannot read a man’s heart, so perhaps I’m wrong on this. But I don’t think so. Here’s what Trump said to Tim Russert in 1999:
“Well, look, I’m very pro-choice. I hate the concept of abortion. I hate it. I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I listen to people debating the subject. But you still — I just believe in choice. But I am strongly for choice and yet I hate the concept of abortion.”
Trump here embraces the line made famous by Mario Cuomo: Personally, I’m opposed to abortion, but I support keeping abortion legal. Where has Trump ever renounced this earlier view and explained the Copernican revolution that has taken place in his thinking on this issue? Perhaps the lack of explanation indicates that there isn’t really a story to tell.
For this reason, pro-life conservatives need to pay attention. Yes, Trump claims to be pro-life, but there are obvious reasons to question this claim. The video above suggests that Trump has no clue about the meaning of Roe v. Wade and the so-called “right to privacy.” How can he be a serious pro-lifer and not demonstrate some basic understanding of those two issues?
Color me unconvinced. All of this leads me to conclude that Trump is not ready for primetime on the life issue. As far as I’m concerned, that means he is not worthy of attention as a serious contender for the presidency. If these remarks truly reflect Trump’s understanding of the pro-life cause, then I hope pro-lifers will see his potential candidacy for what it isâ€”a non-starter.