In a wide-ranging interview on with NBC's "Meet the Press" host Kristen Welker, former President Donald Trump described his approach to a potential federal abortion ban.
"It’s a very polarizing issue. Because of what’s been done, and because of the fact we brought it back to the states, we’re going to have people come together on this issue," he said.
President Trump said he would seek to bring together a bipartisan group, hear all sides, and create consensus.
15 Weeks?He claims the activists pushing for abortion on demand with no restrictions represent only an extreme view that even many pro-life Democrats are against.
"Nobody wants to see five, six, seven, eight, nine months," he said, adding that laws that allow mothers to terminate babies even after they have been delivered alive should be done away with.
Asked whether he would sign a 15-week ban that made it to his desk, he said "no."
"Let me just tell you what I’d do. I’m going to come together with all groups, and we’re going to have something that’s acceptable," he said. "What’s going to happen is you’re going to come up with a number of weeks or months. You’re going to come up with a number that’s going to make people happy. Because 92 percent of the Democrats don’t want to see abortion after a certain period of time."
He said many people have offered up the "15-week" period for a ban, which is early into the second trimester, but he wouldn't consider legislation without bringing more people into the room first.
"I would sit down with both sides and I’d negotiate something, and we’ll end up with peace on that issue for the first time in 52 years," he said, declining to say whether he would support a federal ban.
"I’m not going to say I would or I wouldn’t," he said, adding that he was proud of the overturning of Roe v. Wade because it gave the power back to the states.
"For 52 years, people including Democrats wanted it to go back to states so the states could make the right," he said. "I did something that nobody thought was possible, and Roe v. Wade was terminated, [it] was put back to the states. Now, people, pro-lifers, have the right to negotiate for the first time."
He clarified that the consensus he hoped to bring could result in state-level action instead of a federal ban.
"It could be state or it could be federal. I don’t frankly care," he said. "From a pure standpoint, from a legal standpoint, I think it’s probably better [remaining a state issue], but I can live with it either way."
"The number of weeks is more important," he said, sharing that the public opinion on abortion has changed greatly in the last few years. "The most powerful people that are anti-abortion are okay with that [banning abortion after a certain period] now. And you know what? They weren’t okay with that even a year ago."
ExceptionsHe further called out Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, runner-up in the GOP lineup of candidates, for his six-week ban.
"I think what he did is a terrible thing and a terrible mistake," he said, without specifying a reason. He added that exceptions in any abortion ban were critical. "I think people should have exceptions. I think if it’s rape or incest or the life of the mother, I think you have to have exceptions. It’s very important."
Tudor Dixon, a Republican who ran for and lost the governor's seat in Michigan last year, recently said on a podcast that President Trump gave her advice on abortion policy which she failed to take.
He had told her to “talk differently about abortion” when she took a hardline, no-exceptions approach.
“We could not pivot in time, and it really, you were absolutely right, sir,” Ms. Dixon said.
DeSantis RespondsMr. DeSantis's campaign responded on social media after President Trump singled out Florida's six-week ban, criticizing his political rival's conciliatory approach.
Several states have a "heartbeat" abortion bill, which bans the procedure once a heartbeat is detectable in the womb, which is normally around the six-week mark. Most of these states have included exceptions in their abortion laws from the beginning, though Texas initially passed a no-exceptions ban, and later added exceptions.