“It’s nothing personal. It’s just business.” That was the tagline for former President Donald Trump’s hit show on NBC, The Apprentice. It’s also the attitude of young pro-life activists looking toward a presidential win in 2024.

Governor Ron DeSantis blew out the competition in a straw poll at the Students for Life of America Summit this past Saturday in Washington, DC. Florida’s governor won with 54% of the vote while Donald Trump took 19%.

While Trump merch and flags were sparsely spotted at the March for Life on Friday, the former president’s presence was virtually non-existent at the summit. In contrast, “Ready for Ron” had a vendor table. Dylan Dean, the National Student Director of Ready for Ron, was not shocked by the straw poll after spending the day with students. “While others may focus on insults, ego, or media hype, DeSantis is focused on service and results, and young people know it.”

President Donald Trump slighted many in the pro-life community a few weeks ago by stating he wasn’t to blame for the midterm election loss. “I was 233-20! It was the ‘abortion issue,’ poorly handled by many Republicans, especially those that firmly insisted on No Exceptions, even in the case of Rape, Incest, or Life of the mother, that lost large numbers of Voters. Also, the people that pushed so hard, for decades, against abortion, got their wish from the U.S. Supreme Court, & just plain disappeared, not to be seen again.”

Live Action’s president, Lila Rose, pushed back on Trump’s statements in a series of tweets. “Hardcore pro-lifers won re-election in states across the country; bad candidates & bad campaign strategies lost.” Rose went on to say, “Trump is way out of line on life,” and said the former president “does not have a pulse on where his potential base is.”

The fault of midterm losses has ZERO to do the pro-life cause & more to do with poor election strategies that the Republican Party has been employing for years.
Hardcore pro-lifers won re-election in states across the country; bad candidates & bad campaign strategies lost.

President of Students for Life, Kristan Hawkins, penned an op-ed earlier this month. “Not only did Trump throw the baby out with the proverbial bathwater, but he also tossed out their defenders as well, those quiet, hardworking volunteers who make up the ground game of GOP politics – the door knockers, the phone bank callers and texters, and the donors who put principle first and ask their leaders to do the same.”

Attendees at the summit didn’t like what Trump had to say, but they still appreciated his three Supreme Court appointees who were crucial in deciding Roe v. Wade’s fate, However, they’re mostly concerned if Trump can win in 2024. Wendy Steinkamp from Quincy, Illinois will only support a pro-life candidate and is backing DeSantis. “I think he’s probably more electable, and that’s what’s most important right now, for us to get a pro-life-leaning president in there. And if he’s more electable, that’s who I’m gonna vote for.”

Caecilia Happ is a young voter from Minnesota who supported Trump in the past election, but she’s moved on to DeSantis. “He’s younger, and he’s very convicted; he hasn’t wavered at all.” When asked about Trump’s remarks about the midterm elections and pro-life convictions, Happ said it was important to voice your opinions very clearly, “But even with telling the truth, there’s a way to do it charitably because I think more people will listen if it’s charitable on both sides, and I don’t think he’s always very charitable. I think he crosses the line to being rather rude sometimes.”

Some pro-lifers believed Trump’s post had valid points, while others reject it as left-wing propaganda. Hawkins said in her op-ed, “Life of the mother protections have almost universal support spelled out in every pro-life bill passed nationwide.” Also, some of those candidates with “no exceptions” on rape and incest were handpicked by Trump.

Kristan Hawkins announced the results of the straw poll during the final address of the night, and then stated she’d have to give Governor Ron DeSantis a call. The attendees also voted that they wanted life protected at conception, and Florida only has a 15-week ban. Before Dobbs, Florida had one of the highest abortion rates in the country.

Trump told Real America’s Voice that the hesitancy of evangelical leaders supporting his campaign was a “sign of disloyalty,” because nobody “has ever done more for the ‘right to life’ than Donald Trump.”

I didn’t encounter hate on the ground for the former president, though there was disappointment from recent actions. Many attendees do genuinely like DeSantis and his governing style, but their defection from Trump is strategic. The former president successfully wooed evangelicals to support him by offering his support to them. But if Trump can’t clinch the victory, his promises will be useless. As William F. Buckley Jr. said, “I’d be for the most right, viable candidate who could win.”

If Trump wants to retake the White House, he’ll have to convince his wavering base he’s the most likely candidate to succeed.

LifeNews Note: Christina Barr is the CEO and leading voice of Black Tea News. Barr was born in 1989, and is a life-long Michigan resident. She officially got involved with politics in 2012. Barr was the Creative Director of the Michigan Republican Party from 2015-17.

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