Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Trump Fumbles During Interview on Abortion

LifeNews, a Pro-Life organization, opined that Trump "faltered" on the question of privacy during an interview April 19th.

Summary: During a discussion of his switch to becoming pro-life, Trump was asked about whether there is a right to privacy in the Constitution. Trump expressed confusion about the connection, apparently unaware that Roe v. Wade established a right to abortion through an implied right to privacy in the Constitution. LifeNews expressed skepticism about Trump's beliefs and his familiarity with the abortion debate.

Analysis: In a previous post, Elephant Watcher explained that in order for Trump to advance in the field, he must establish himself as a genuine conservative and as an electable candidate. The results of Trump's interview suggest that he is struggling in both areas.

Conservative candidates are generally pro-life, and are at least acquainted with the fundamentals of the debate. Specifically, they believe the Supreme Court overreached in Roe v. Wade: It invented a right to abortion by appealing to an "implied" right to privacy.

It is vital for Trump to appear well-versed in politics, otherwise he runs the risk of being tarnished as an uninformed, unserious--and thereby unelectable--candidate. The fact that he made this blunder during questions about his newly conservative beliefs adds insult to injury.

The good news for Trump is that gaffes hurt less when they take place early. He still has plenty of time to recover. But first impressions matter also, and Trump has yet to establish himself as an electable conservative.

Trump's unfamiliarity with the abortion debate reveals a vulnerability not yet exploited by journalists. Thus far they have asked him persistent questions about the "birther" issue. Now it's possible they may attempt to "Couric" him. (Recall that Palin's image was harmed when she was unable to answer Couric's specific questions about what newspapers she read and, ironically, Supreme Court decisions.)

If journalists are able to draw Trump into quizzes about the world of politics, his chances of winning the nomination will fall.