Donald Trump was reportedly expected to call-in to a pro-life conference known as the 115 Forum Wednesday but never made the call. His decision not to speak to the group disappointed some who were attending the meeting. Politico reports:
Three sources associated with the group said organizers had initially led attendees to believe that Trump would be speaking to them by phone. Yet later on Wednesday, organizers said the mogul would not be speaking.
A similar report at the Daily Beast makes Trump’s decision sound even more stark, “Leslie Palma, a spokesperson for Priests for Life, told The Daily Beast that Trump did not dial-in.” That makes it sound as if Trump didn’t cancel the appearance so much as just not turn up when expected.
The story seems straight-forward enough to this point, but Trump’s campaign tells Politico he never intended to join the meeting in any way (in person or by phone). Even more curious, Rev. Frank Pavone, one of the organizers of the conference, declined to comment on Trump’s statement (that he never intended to speak to the group) when asked about it by Politico. But Pavone gave a statement to the Daily Beast in which he said, “Mr. Trump did not break any commitments to speak to me or any gathering I organize.”
Finally, it’s worth noting that Pavone’s statement seems to be at odds with the one given by his group’s spokesperson, i.e. that Trump did not dial-in. If Trump was never expected to call in then his not doing so isn’t really worth mentioning. The spokesperson’s statement only makes sense if one assumes Trump, at some point today, was expected to place the call.
The 115 Forum is a conference run by Priests for Life, a Catholic pro-life organization. Trump has been trying to rebound from a stumble last week when he suggested women who violate the law and have an abortion would need to be punished. As the Daily Beast reports, that didn’t go over well with pro-lifers:
Trump’s disconnect with pro-life leaders became painfully obvious after he told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews last week that he believed there should be “punishment” for women who get abortions. (Trump has since backtracked.) Virtually all mainstream anti-abortion groups reject this rhetoric, instead holding that women who get abortions are victims of the procedure.
They quickly repudiated Trump.
“We have never advocated, in any context, for the punishment of women who undergo abortion,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, who heads SBA List, in a statement. “As a convert to the pro-life movement, Mr. Trump sees the reality of the horror of abortion—the destruction of an innocent human life—which is legal in our country up until the moment of birth. But let us be clear: punishment is solely for the abortionist who profits off of the destruction of one life and the grave wounding of another.”
Trump’s campaign issued a statement a few hours later walking back his flub about punishing women who have abortions. The statement read in part, “the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman.”