Biden targets Trump in Florida speech on abortion

President Joe Biden President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop at Hillsborough Community College’s Dale Mabry campus on April 23, 2024, in Tampa, Florida. | Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Tuesday called for a national right to abortion during a campaign speech in Tampa, Florida, in which he blamed the overturning of Roe v. Wade on former President Donald Trump. 

Speaking to a crowd of supporters at Hillsborough Community College, Biden, a Catholic, called the overturn of Roe v. Wade “a political deal” made by Trump with “the evangelical base of the Republican Party to look past his moral and character flaws.” 

He criticized Republicans as “extreme” for passing laws to protect unborn life, particularly singling out a Florida six-week abortion limit set to go into effect on May 1 as “bizarre.” 

“Let’s be clear, there is one person who is responsible for this nightmare, and he’s acknowledged and he brags about it, Donald Trump,” Biden said. 

“Trump is literally taking us back 150 years,” he went on, adding that Trump is responsible for efforts to limit abortion as well as in vitro fertilization and the chemical abortion drug mifepristone. 

Though Trump recently said he would not sign a national abortion ban into law, Biden accused Trump of currently secretly working with Republicans in Congress to pass a federal abortion limit. 

“Now women in America have fewer rights than their mothers and their grandmothers had, because of Donald Trump,” he said. “It was Donald Trump who ripped away the rights of women in America. It will be all of us who will restore those rights for women.” 

Urging people to vote this November, he pledged to enshrine a national right to abortion. 

“We’ll teach Donald Trump and the extreme MAGA Republicans a valuable lesson: Don’t mess with the women of America,” he said. “Elect a Democratic Congress and Kamala and I will make Roe v. Wade the law of the land again.” 

Biden also praised a pro-abortion amendment that will be on the Florida ballot in November and could enshrine a right to abortion into the state constitution. 

If passed, the amendment would change the Florida Constitution to include a provision reading: “No law shall prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health, as determined by the patient’s health care provider.”

Biden endorsed the effort to add the abortion amendment to the state constitution, saying: “Let’s get this done.” 

“Since the [Supreme] Court said that states should make the decision, states all over the country from Ohio, Kansas, Michigan, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Virginia, women and men of every background voted in record numbers to protect reproductive freedom,” Biden said. “This November, you can add Florida to that list. You can. Are you ready to do that? You’ve got to show up and vote.” 

Trump campaign responds

Michael Whatley, chairman of the Republican National Committee, responded to Biden’s speech by telling CNA that the incumbent president’s “radical abortion agenda — refusing to support any limits and allowing abortion up to the moment of birth — is wildly out of touch with most Americans.”

“But that will not stop him from pitching it to Florida voters,” he went on. “Biden must have forgotten that thousands of Americans have fled from extremist Democrat policies to prosperous and pro-life states like Florida.” 

Karoline Leavitt, national press secretary for the Trump campaign, told CNA that though Biden “may be a self-proclaimed Catholic, or a ‘cafeteria Catholic’ as he was recently described by the Catholic archbishop of Washington, D.C.,” his actions “prove he does not deserve the vote of Catholic Americans.” 

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“Biden supports abortion up until birth, his Department of Justice targets and imprisons pro-life activists, and Biden’s FBI plotted to infiltrate Catholic Masses to spy on attendees,” she said. “President Trump will end Biden’s discrimination against all Christians and stand for religious freedom, as he did in his first term.” 

Floridians weigh in

In response to Biden’s speech, Lynda Bell, president of Florida Right to Life, told CNA that she was “not surprised but disgusted.” 

Bell called the Florida abortion amendment touted by Biden “radical,” stating: “Biden doesn’t care about women, Biden doesn’t care about girls, Biden doesn’t care about safety, Biden cares about votes. If he thinks sacrificing babies through birth will get him a vote, then he’ll do it. The man has zero principles.” 

A group of pro-life Floridians from Turning Point USA also held a “rally for life” outside the building where Biden gave his speech.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also criticized Biden for making a trip to Florida to advocate for abortion and said his efforts to win Florida would be in vain. 

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“He’s coming down to try to support a constitutional amendment that will mandate abortion up until the moment of birth, that will eliminate parental consent for minors, and that’s written in a way that is intentionally designed to deceive voters,” DeSantis said. “So, all I can tell you is Floridians are not buying what Joe Biden is selling and in November we’re going to play an instrumental role in sending him back to Delaware where he belongs.” 

Democrats place hopes on abortion

Vice President Kamala Harris also hit the campaign trail this week advocating for a national right to abortion. 

At a stop on her “Reproductive Freedoms” tour in La Crosse, Wisconsin, on Monday, Harris slammed Trump as the orchestrator of the overturning of Roe v. Wade and urged supporters to send “Joe and me to the White House.” 

John White, a professor of politics at The Catholic University of America, told CNA that though he believes pro-abortion voters will turn out to the polls in large numbers, he does not think they will be able to win the state.

“Abortion is a motivating factor in this year’s election,” White said. “If the past is prologue, it is an issue that helps Democrats, he added.

However, White noted that in recent years the Sunshine State has “moved rather decidedly toward the Republicans.”

“The abortion amendment on the ballot does make the state more competitive and Republicans may have to spend more money defending their candidates than they counted on doing,” he concluded.

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