Ron DeSantis pushed through an on-air gaffe Tuesday that had him telling CNN’s Jake Tapper that “in some liberal states, you actually have post-birth abortions — and I think that that’s wrong.” And to be clear, “post-birth abortions” in this case would be infanticide, which is not legally happening in any state, Red or Blue.
The comment came as part of the Florida governor and 2024 Republican presidential candidate’s Tuesday interview on “The Lead With Jake Tapper,” in what marked a rare appearance for him on CNN.
The sit-down saw DeSantis trying to reboot his presidential bid through a continued emphasis on combatting “wokeness” in the U.S., especially in the military, school system and government. It marked his latest attempt to regain momentum in the polls, which show former president Donald Trump surging.
A June 26 NBC News poll had Trump securing 51% of Republican primary voters, while DeSantis was at 22%. Mike Pence was polling at 7%, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had 5% and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley had 4%. Appearing upbeat, DeSantis said media routinely downplay his comparatively strong polling behind Trump.
“They’ve been saying that I’ve been doing poorly for my whole time as governor, basically,” DeSantis said.
He also doubled down on his talking points to appeal to the GOP base, saying he wants people in the military to check their individuality at the door. “It’s all about the mission first,” he said.
Tapper also grilled the politician, who became nationally notorious for signing a six-week abortion ban in his home state this year, on his plans for rolling out similar anti-abortion legislation were he to become president. But he avoided spotlighting the issue, declining to answer if he would support that same ban nationwide.
“I’m pro-life, I will be a pro-life president, and we will support pro-life policies,” he said, softly pivoting. “At the same time, I look at what’s going on in the Congress, and I don’t see them making very much headway. I think the danger from Congress is, if we lose the election, they’re going to try to nationalize abortion up until the moment of birth.”
That’s when he said that some liberal states take it one step further: “You actually have post-birth abortions, and I think that that’s wrong.”
Reflecting on his broad appeal were he to take the Republican ticket next year, DeSantis pointed to his 19-point victory in Florida’s gubernatorial election last fall as evidence that his agenda works for the common voter.
“The proof is in the pudding. I mean, I took a state that had been a one-point state, and we won it by 20 percentage points, 1.5 million votes,” he said. “Our bread and butter were people like suburban moms. We’re leading a big movement for parents’ rights, to have the parents be involved in education, school choice, get the indoctrination out of schools.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Trump’s ongoing legal woes loomed large. DeSantis said he doesn’t want to see the former president criminally charged for his actions during the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill.
“I want to focus on looking forward,” he said. “I don’t want to look back. I do not want to see him. I hope he doesn’t get charged. I don’t think it’ll be good for the country. But, at the same time, I have got to focus on looking forward, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Watch DeSantis’ full interview with CNN in the video above.