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Semafor LogoShelby Talcott
Shelby Talcott
politicsNorth America

Trump starts the new year by attacking hardline Republicans on abortion

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Title iconThe News
REUTERS/Marco Bello

Donald Trump celebrated New Year’s eve more or less the same way he had spent much of 2022’s final months — comfortably ensconced at Mar-a-Lago. He marked New Year’s Day in a somewhat more surprising fashion, picking a fight with a faction of his own party over abortion.

Title iconThe View From Mar-a-Lago

The former president, and current 2024 contender, hosted a black-tie gala at his Florida resort Saturday night with a guest list heavy on club members and short on recognizable names, save for political loyalists like MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and Rudy Giuliani, and country music star Jason Aldean. Attendees walked down a red carpet to the ballroom, where the night’s entertainment was an act called Matt Mauser and the Pete Jacobs Big Band.

Trump arrived promptly at 9pm with wife Melania at his side, and took a few minutes to speak with the small group of reporters waiting for his arrival.

“Hello everybody. Happy new year. Hopefully it’ll be a great year for everybody, including yourselves, and I hope you enjoy yourselves at Mar-a-Lago,” Trump first told the press, who had been penned outside the ballroom. (Mercifully, it was a warm night.)

The ex-president then took just a few questions, notably ignoring one about Jan. 6 as well as two from Semafor: Whether he’d back a national abortion ban and his thoughts on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s push to investigate the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

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“Who else?” Trump scoffed, looking around for a different question as he heard DeSantis’s name. He then gave brief answers about the economy, his “fantastic” poll numbers, and Russia’s war in Ukraine before heading into the party to cap off a year in which he was widely blamed for Republicans’ poor midterm showing, and much of the GOP finally began to edge away from him as a consequence.

Title iconThe View From Donald Trump

By New Year’s Day, he was busy litigating those election results on Truth Social, where he blamed anti-abortion hardliners for the outcome, without mentioning that he’d backed many of them in Republican primaries.

“It wasn’t my fault that Republicans didn’t live up to expectations in the MidTerms,” Trump wrote. “It was the ‘abortion issue,’ poorly handled by many Republicans, especially those that firmly insisted on NO Exceptions even in the case of Rape, Incest, or Life of the Mother that lost large numbers of Voters.”

He then added a dig at Republican voters who’d “pushed so hard, for decades, against abortion, got their wish from the U.S. Supreme Court, & just plain disappeared, not to be seen again.” The comments drew rebukes from conservatives like commentator Ben Domenech, who tweeted that, “Trump betraying the pro-life cause on Dobbs has been telegraphed for a long time.”

Title iconQuoteworthy

Others noted the oddity of Trump attacking Republicans — not to mention his own loyal evangelical base — for what many in the party consider to be his most important accomplishment. “Fascinating strategy when one thing that united R’s across the spectrum was Trump’s SCOTUS picks,” tweeted Matt Whitlock, a former Republican comms staffer. “Now he’s blaming the midterm loss on accomplishing Conservatives’ 50-year goal of overturning Roe.”

Title iconThe Upshot

Cocooned at his estate and now feuding with his party’s base, Trump woke up in 2023 with a killer political hangover.

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