By Alexandra DeSanctis, National Review
Today, most of Trump’s pro-life advocates identify his performance in the final presidential debate as the point when he won over the social-conservative base, a sizeable portion of which had remained unconvinced of the candidate’s sincerity on abortion. As Dannenfelser puts it, it was one thing for pro-life leaders to advocate Trump to their supporters; it was another for Trump to convince them himself.
At the October 19 debate in Las Vegas, Fox News host Chris Wallace asked Clinton to explain her vote as a U.S. senator against a ban on partial-birth abortions, to which Clinton replied that such late-term procedures must remain legal to protect the life and health of mothers. Asked for his view, Trump threw down the gauntlet: “Well, I think it’s terrible,” he said, cutting off the end of Wallace’s follow-up question in his haste. “If you go with what Hillary is saying, in the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.” He enunciated each word with his signature tone of disgust. “Now, you can say that that’s okay, and Hillary can say that that’s okay. But it’s not okay with me, because based on what she’s saying, and based on where she’s going, and where she’s been, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month, on the final day. And that is not acceptable.”
For Dannenfelser, that moment was proof she had made the correct decision in leading Trump’s pro-life coalition. “It was even more authentic because it was in his own words. It was not scripted,” she says. Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, tells me, “That was a game-changing moment for a lot of people.”.
“The GOP has for so long treated this issue as something to be feared,” Dannenfelser adds. “Trump treated this issue as a winning issue.”