One should always take campaign rhetoric with a grain of salt. When Cruz adviser Alice Stewart and Trump national spokeswoman Katrina Pierson clashed on Fox News recently, each performed as people in their roles are expected to, cherry-picking facts to make their respective campaigns look good while making the other campaign look bad. Even so, when the rhetorical smoke cleared, the camp that came out on top was clearly that of Ted Cruz.
At issue was Donald Trump’s position on abortion, which has changed from explicitly pro-choice to professed pro-life. The Trump camp objects to Cruz running ads which use Trump’s own words against him. Those ads feature Trump declaring himself pro-choice. On Fox News, Pierson defended Trump, saying that those clips are from “seventeen years ago” and do not reflect where he stands today. Stewart, speaking for Cruz, pointed out that Trump has recently praised Planned Parenthood for “doing wonderful things.”
On that last point, Pierson attempts to distinguish between abortion and other services like cervical cancer screening, claiming that Trump supports the latter and not the former. However, in a context where taxpayer funding is concerned, no such distinctions can be made. Money is fungible. You can’t support one thing Planned Parenthood does without supporting everything it does. Money earmarked for cervical cancer screenings just frees other funds for abortion services. If Trump understands this, then his support for Planned Parenthood undermines his pro-life bona fides. If Trump does not understand it, then his judgment may prove unfit for the presidency.
Conversion to a politically expedient position is always suspect. In the Cruz ad embedded on the next page, Trump is shown arrogantly claiming that he can change into whatever he needs to be. While it’s certainly possible for people to sincerely change their minds on issues, going from pro-choice to pro-life proves fairly dramatic. It’s fair to question the sincerity of Trump’s professed conversion, especially in a context where he’s asking for immense power. Have a look…