Trump pushes new GOP platform softening party’s positions on abortion, same-sex marriage

July 8, 2024
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At the urging of former President Donald Trump and his allies, the national Republican Party is set to abandon a decades-long push for a federal abortion ban and soften the stance on same-sex marriage in its platform, according to changes made in its draft policy platform passed Monday morning ahead of next week’s Republican National Convention in Milwaukee.

The GOP’s new draft party platform, which still must get approval from the full Republican National Committee, came after significant effort from Trump’s campaign, which made a quiet push to keep those seen as too socially conservative quietly off the platform committee, concerned that they would make a vocal push for things like a federal abortion ban, which has consistently been unpopular in public polling.

“The reality of the situation is, this platform reflects modern day realities,” said a platform committee member who spoke to NBC News anonymously in order to detail private deliberations. “This is a position that leaves it up to the states, which is the position of the Republican Party.”

Fights over how to handle changes to both abortion and same-sex marriage dominated the lead-up to the GOP changing its national policy platform, something that generally happens every four years alongside presidential elections. For the first time in recent memory, this year’s platform meeting was held behind closed doors without access for the media or members of the public.

Social conservatives pushed to retain the platform’s old language promoting an abortion ban and opposing same-sex marriage, but they lost as the politics surrounding both have changed over the years. Trump said earlier this year that abortion should remain a state policy issue, after the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision overturning Roe v. Wade, and Trump’s White House said during his administration that he supported same-sex marriage.

“It is fair to say that over 1,000 pastors have emailed, texted and called me about their disappointment over where they saw the platform going,” said Chad Connelly, a former chair of the South Carolina GOP who said he was blocked from the platform committee over “being labeled ‘too pro-life.'” 

“The words I am hearing are shocked, betrayed, trampled, depressed, deflated,” he said. “Most pastors I know don’t want Biden and will still probably vote for Trump, but this hurts the energy needed for those folks to do the things it takes to help elect a president.”

In a statement, top Trump advisers said the platform represents his vision for the Republican Party headed into the 2024 election cycle.

“President Trump’s 2024 Republican Party platform articulates his vision to Make America Great Again in a way that is concise and digestible to every voter,” Trump campaign senior advisors Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles said in a statement. 

The Biden campaign said the GOP draft platform was hiding Trump’s true policy goals.

“Every voter should Google Project 2025 if they want to know Donald Trump’s true agenda for America,” Biden campaign spokesperson James Singer said in a statement. “What was put out today was not a platform, it was a cheap, in-all-caps admission Trump and his campaign want to hide from his dangerous Project 2025 agenda to make Trump a dictator on day one, destroy our system of checks and balances, cut Social Security, ban abortion and worse.”

Trump’s approval of the proposed party platform comes just two days after he publicly lashed out at the conservative groups behind the writing of “Project 2025,” a 922-page roadmap of policies for a potential second Trump administration. Critics have panned some of the project’s proposals, and the Biden campaign has repeatedly sought to tie Trump to it.

“I know nothing about Project 2025,” Trump wrote in a social media post. “I have no idea who is behind it. I disagree with some of the things they’re saying and some of the things they’re saying are absolutely ridiculous and abysmal. Anything they do, I wish them luck, but I have nothing to do with them.”

The Republican National Committee’s platform policy director, Russ Vought, also served as one of the authors of “Project 2025.” The “Project 2025” effort was led by the Heritage Foundation and backed by more than 100 other allied organizations.

One day after Trump’s social media post, “Project 2025” director Paul Dans canceled a taped interview with NBC News that was scheduled for Monday.

Inside the platform changes

The Republican Party’s current policy platform, unchanged since 2016 after the party skipped the platform process during the Covid pandemic in 2020, says the GOP supports a “human life amendment” to the U.S. Constitution. The proposed changes this year say the 14th Amendment inherently offers protections for life at conception and that “states are, therefore, free to pass Laws protecting those Rights.”

It represents a significant switch for the Republican Party, which has been grappling with how to handle its stance on abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, pitting social conservatives against figures more worried about the political implications of the party’s position.

“It’s unfortunate that the statement on abortion and life related issues is very weak and much less effective in articulating a sound policy agenda around the issues,” said John Stemberger, president of the Liberty Counsel Action. 

Stemberger did praise new sections added to the GOP policy platform that offered protections to parental rights in education and put the party officially in opposition to “gender indoctrination of our children.” 

On same-sex marriage, the Trump-aligned platform committee also approved changes opposed by social conservative in the party. The new proposed platform removes language that says marriage is “between one man and one woman, and is the foundation for a free society.”

It was replaced by language that says the party instead promotes a “culture that values the Sanctity of Marriage, the blessing of childhood, the foundational role of family, and supports working parents.” The new proposed platform does not include mention of “one man and one woman.”

Though there was a fevered lobbying effort ahead of the platform committee meeting, the issue was not a topic of debate during Monday’s meeting, which focused debate more on the abortion language.

“I don’t think one person brought it up,” a second platform committee member told NBC News.

One issue that did get some attention during the roughly three-hour meeting was the potential use of military forces on the southern border, something a handful of platform committee members said could raise legal issues. Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla., a former Green Beret, quickly shot down the concerns.

Other additions to the party’s platform include beginning the “largest deportation program in American History,” a push to use federal law to keep “foreign Christian-hating Communists, Marxists, and Socialists out of America,” and an effort to “keep men out of women’s sports.”

The draft platform also says Republicans will “hold accountable” those who have used the government “to unjustly prosecute their political opponents.” 

“We will declassify government records, root out wrongdoers, and fire corrupt employees,” the platform reads, a reference to the baseless notion that President Joe Biden and Democrats have wrongly prosecuted Republicans for political reasons.

The proposed platform is just 16 pages, significantly shorter than the more than 60-page current document. That was the result of a concerted effort from Trump coming to simplify and streamline the party’s policy platform.

“For decades, Republicans have published textbook-long platforms that are scrutinized and intentionally misrepresented by out political opponents,” Wiles and LaCivita wrote in a memo late last month, which was first reported by The New York Times. “The mainstream media uses their bully pulpit to perpetuate lies and misrepresentation, and the voters are often left believing we stand for something different than we actually do.”

It’s something some party officials have said was the right move after years of massive GOP platforms.

“It’s what a platform should be, in my opinion,” said one party official. “What DJT is running on, but not hundreds of pages of dribble.”



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