Trump publicly praises Roe’s repeal — but privately frets about impact

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During meetings with some political advisers at his Mar-a-Lago estate this year, former president Donald Trump regularly posed a question: “What’s a tougher issue, abortion or guns?”

In a two-day span this week, a Supreme Court whose makeup was dramatically shifted to the right during Trump’s presidency gave his supporters significant wins on two seismic issues. Most dramatically, there was the overturning of Roe v. Wade, culminating a 49-year crusade from the GOP to discard the decision protecting the right to abortions, but also the knockdown of a gun control law in New York.

The abortion decision was 6-3 and the guns decision was 6-3, with the three justices appointed by Trump casting the decisive votes.

Both gun control and abortion are issues that are likely to reshape and inject vigor into the 2022 midterm elections and the 2024 presidential race — and give Trump signature victories to reanimate his supporters, while driving out his biggest foes in droves. So far, the 2022 cycle is expected to be a good one for Republicans, analysts in both parties say, but the election has been largely about issues other than guns and abortion. Trump has shown little interest in either.

Abortion will soon be banned in 13 states. Here’s which could be next.

Publicly, Trump crowed about the Supreme Court rulings Friday in a triumphant statement released through his super PAC, blasting his usual suspects, including Democrats and the news media.

“Today’s decision, which is the biggest WIN for LIFE in a generation, along with other decisions that have been announced recently, were only made possible because I delivered everything as promised, including nominating and getting three highly respected and strong Constitutionalists confirmed to the United States Supreme Court. It was my great honor to do so!” he said. He issued another brief statement on the New York gun bill.

“This brings everything back to the states where it has always belonged,” Trump said to Fox News. He told Fox that “God made the decision.”

He was more publicly muted, however, than a range of other Republicans who are seeking the presidency in 2024. Trump is expected to speak at a rally Saturday night in Illinois.

Some Republicans were faster to call for the laws to go even further. A raft of his contemporaries issued statements more quickly and at far greater length than Trump.

“Having been given this second chance for life, we must not rest and must not relent until the sanctity of life is restored to the center of American law in every state in the land,” former vice president Mike Pence said in an interview with Breitbart.

Trump has largely stayed away from the looming Roe decision in recent weeks, only decrying the leak of a draft opinion in the case from the Supreme Court and avoiding opportunities to talk about it publicly. He has complained privately that the overturning of Roe could hurt Republicans politically in independent and suburban districts, two advisers said, and has told allies they should emphasize that states can set their own laws. Trump has also told some of his advisers he thinks a better position would be to limit but not ban abortion, two of these people said, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal internal discussions.

“He is convinced it won’t help him in the future,” one adviser said of Roe being overturned, and would prefer the 2022 midterms and 2024 presidential election be primarily about other topics, such as inflation, immigration and Biden’s messy pullout in Afghanistan, four people who have spoken with him said.

Before speaking to the National Rifle Association convention last month after a mass shooting in Uvalde, Tex., Trump wondered if he should support some moderate limits on guns and said he was horrified by the shooting, according to two advisers. But as aides have done in the past, they talked him out of including such sentiments in…

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