Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley said Sunday it’s “not realistic” for candidates to commit to a federal abortion ban, saying any Republican who pledges to enact one is “not being honest with the American people.”
Haley made the comments in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday after host Margaret Brennan pressed her to clarify her stance on abortion. The former South Carolina governor called for the country to reach a “national consensus” on abortion last month, but has not espoused a specific cut-off period from which the procedure should be banned.
“For a national standard, I think we have to tell the American people the truth,” Haley said. “In order to do a national standard, you would have to have a majority of the House, 60 Senate votes, and a president. We haven’t had 60 pro-life senators in 100 years.”
“So the idea that a Republican president could ban all abortions is not being honest with the American people,” she added.
Brennan noted that Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), another presidential hopeful, has pushed a 20-week federal abortion ban, which is the legal cut-off in the state of South Carolina. Haley signed that measure into law when she led the state in 2016.
“I’m not going to lie to the American people,” Haley responded. “Nothing’s going to happen if we don’t get 60 votes in the Senate. We’re not even close to that on the Republican or the Democrat side.”
She went on: “Why try and divide people further? Why not talk about the fact that we should be trying to save as many babies as possible and support as many mothers as possible? I think the media has tried to divide them by saying we have to decide certain weeks. In states, yes. At the federal level, it’s not realistic.”
Trump himself has largely avoided abortion during his reelection bid, while other potential Republican nominees have pushed their strong anti-abortion records, including former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and former Vice President Mike Pence.
Haley, who also served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, launched her bid for the White House in February, the first Republican to challenge former President Donald Trump.
“Republicans have lost the popular vote in seven out of the last eight presidential elections,” Haley said in her announcement. “That has to change. … It’s time for a new generation of leadership.”