Donald Trump Won’t Say If He’s Dated a Woman Who Had an Abortion

Question from New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd follows candidate’s suggestion that women who have abortions “should be punished” if the procedure becomes illegal

Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has had a tough time winning support from women in his bid for the U.S. presidency, and some side-stepping he’s done on an emotional issue in a recent interview isn’t likely to help.

“When he was a swinging bachelor in Manhattan, was he ever involved with anyone who had an abortion?” New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd asked Trump for an article posted this weekend on the Times web site. She was following up on Trump’s comments last week — since rescinded — that there should be punishment for women who undergo abortions if Republicans succeed in making the procedure illegal.

“Such an interesting question,” Trump told Dowd. “So what’s your next question?”

In the earlier interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Trump said that for women, but not men, “there has to be some form of punishment” if abortion became illegal when he was in the White House. The Trump campaign quickly clarified his statement, twice, and even told CBS’s John Dickerson that “the laws are set. And I think we have to leave it that way.”

“This was not real life,” he told Dowd. “This was a hypothetical, so I thought of it in terms of a hypothetical. So that’s where that answer came from, hypothetically.”

It’s been a tough week for Trump in terms of connecting with potential female voters, a problem made all more critical since he’s almost likely going up against Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the general election.

In addition to Trump’s evolving comments on abortion, the real estate mogul and first-time politician had to apologize for re-tweeting a very unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz, wife of his GOP rival Ted Cruz.

“If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t have sent it,” he said, but couldn’t resist noting that he believed Cruz started things by writing the words on the digital ad put up by an anti-Trump group aimed at Utah Mormons. It showed Trump’s wife Melania in a 2000 British GQ shot posing provocatively. Cruz denies any involvement.

Also, Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was arrested and charged with battery after allegedly yanking a Breitbart News reporter’s arm at a Florida rally. That sparked an effort by Trump’s camp to discredit the reporter, Michelle Fields.