Trump’s Theoretical, Rhetorical, Academic Problem With Talking About Abortion

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Presidential Candidate Donald Trump Holds Indiana Campaign Rally
Trump can't talk himself out of trouble on his abortion position. Photo: Luke Sharrett/?????? 2016 Bloomberg Finance LP

So here’s a free tip for anyone in a position to hurl questions at Donald Trump in hopes of tripping him up: Ask him about abortion. Ask him over and over again.

As you may recall, the Donald managed to upset everybody in the abortion debate a little over a month ago by telling Chris Mathews that he favored punishment of pregnant women seeking abortions in the illegalization scheme he favored. 

With everybody pounding him, he backtracked at lightning speed, but in a way that suggested it was unfair to ask him about such hypothetical situations as an abortion ban:

If Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal and the federal courts upheld this legislation, or any state were permitted to ban abortion under state and federal law, the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman.

You’d assume that with the passage of a month Trump would have figured out what to say on the topic and how to dismissively explain why he screwed up so badly. We found out today on Morning Joe that, if anything, his befuddlement has grown worse:

WILLIE GEIST: What about what you told Chris Matthews a few weeks ago, which is that women who get abortions should be punished? Do you still believe that to be true?

TRUMP: No, he was asking me a theoretical, or just a question in theory, and I talked about it only from that standpoint. Of course not. And that was done, he said, you know, I guess it was theoretically, but he was asking a rhetorical question, and I gave an answer. And by the way, people thought from an academic standpoint, and, asked rhetorically, people said that answer was an unbelievable academic answer! But of course not, and I said that afterwards.

Boy, that’s not just a word salad; that’s a damn word salad bar. 

If I didn’t know better, I’d get the sense that what Trump is getting dangerously close to saying is this: “Mathews tripped me up by asking about a hypothetical abortion ban, which I support, but which we all know isn’t going to happen.”

Now that would be clear as a bell.

Trump Cannot Articulate His Position on Abortion