GOP candidate Tim Scott criticizes Trump for refusing to commit to federal abortion ban

MASON CITY, Iowa — Tim Scott took a rare swing at fellow Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on the campaign trail Monday, criticizing the former president's comments over the weekend suggesting a desire to compromise on the issue of abortion.

During an interview that aired Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press, Trump refused to say at what point in a pregnancy he would support a federal abortion ban. He admonished Republicans who take too hard a stance, saying "you're not going to win on this issue," and suggested instead that Republicans and Democrats can work together to put the issue behind them.

"I’m going to come together with all groups, and we’re going to have something that’s acceptable," he said.

Scott, a South Carolina senator who is striving on the campaign trail to appeal to Iowa evangelical voters, told attendees at a Mason City town hall Monday that he doesn't think that's the right approach.

More from Monday: Tim Scott says Hunter Biden still getting 'kid gloves' from DOJ after firearm indictment

"President Trump said he would negotiate with the Democrats and walk back away from what I believe we need, which is a 15-week limit on the federal level," Scott said.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., greets local residents during a meet and greet, Monday, Sept. 18, 2023, in Fort Dodge, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Scott's comments were notable coming from a candidate who has largely avoided criticizing fellow Republicans, and in particular Trump as the runaway leader in the polls. The senator has sought to stay above the fray, to the point that he struggled to break through in the first debate.

On the rare occasions he has thrown elbows at other candidates, he's done so obliquely.

There was nothing oblique about his words Monday. Asked if he would present the same strength on the world stage as Trump, Scott said it's important not to equate anger with strength, and he pivoted to Trump's comments on abortion.

"Being tough is just not enough. Being angry doesn’t work, and frankly today, those pro-life folks that we really want to stand with us, we’re not standing by," he said.

Nor was Trump the only candidate Scott called out by name for failing to take a strong stance on abortion.

"Vivek Ramaswamy, Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, all along with President Trump say they will not name a week where we stop California, New York and Illinois from having abortions on demand," Scott said. "I say, not on my watch."

Trump himself has taken a harder stance on abortion in the past, and has frequently taken credit for appointing three of the Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade.

Scott isn't the only Republican presidential hopeful to react to Trump's Meet the Press interview, which also saw him describe as "a terrible mistake" a six-week abortion ban adopted in Florida.

Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition's fall banquet, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Bryon Houlgrave)

DeSantis responded in a radio interview that "Donald Trump may think it’s terrible. I think protecting babies with heartbeats is noble and just."

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, a major anti-abortion group, also responded Monday to praise DeSantis' Florida law.

William Morris covers courts for the Des Moines Register. He can be contacted at, 715-573-8166 or on Twitter at @DMRMorris.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Tim Scott criticizes Donald Trump over Meet the Press abortion stance