June 6, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Donald Trump has made his first endorsement since becoming the presumptive Republican nominee, backing Rep. Renee Ellmers, the North Carolina congresswoman who led a revolt to scuttle the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in 2015.
Ellmers is facing a tough primary challenge from fellow incumbent Rep. George Holding and numerous other pro-life conservatives tomorrow.
“Boy is she a fighter,” Donald Trump says in a robocall that hit her congressional district over the weekend. “I need her help in Washington so we can work together to defeat ISIS, secure our border, and bring back jobs and frankly so many other things. And Renee knows how to do it. She gets it.”
The call notes that Ellmers was the first member of Congress to endorse his presidential campaign. The billionaire business mogul is known to prize loyalty among his political, and personal, associates.
That troubles pro-life advocates, who remember Ellmers' role in stopping their top U.S. legislative priority less than a year-and-a-half ago.
Ellmers and a group of congresswomen, including Jackie Walorski of Indiana, raised an unexpected objection to an aspect of the national ban on abortion – which they had voted for the previous year – requiring women to report their rape to the authorities before they could abort babies after 20 weeks.
Their uprising caused the House leadership, which had publicly announced it would vote on the measure the same day as the annual March for Life, to postpone the vote for months.
A few weeks later, she defended her actions, saying, “I am appalled by the abhorrent and childish behaviors from some of the leaders of” the right to life movement.
“This is just another disappointment from Mr. Trump and his campaign,” Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, told LifeSiteNews today. “Either his endorsement shows a lack of understanding of our human rights movement or a lack of caring.”
At the time, leading pro-life leaders called her role in stifling the vote “unforgivable.” And her one-time supporters have not forgotten.
“I worked to get Renee Ellmers elected and she betrayed people like me once she got into office,” wrote John Hawkins of RightWingNews.com after the endorsement. “I endorse George Holding for her seat.”
In March, the nation's leading pro-life political organizations – including National Right to Life and the Susan B. Anthony List – told LifeSiteNews they intended to oppose Ellmers' primary campaign.
Just days later, National Right to Life endorsed Rep. Holding.
In addition to pro-life voters, Ellmers finds her re-election bid opposed by economic conservative groups like Americans for Prosperity and the Club for Growth. Both groups also took a negative of Donald Trump's economic proposals, at least initially, as well.
Some also oppose Ellmers over Donald Trump's signature issue of immigration. During a March 2014 radio interview she called Laura Ingraham “small-minded” and “ignorant” for opposing a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants. Donald Trump shot to an early lead in the GOP presidential race last summer after drawing attention to the problem of crimes committed by illegal immigrants, just before Kate Steinle was murdered in a sanctuary city. The suspect, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, is a repeat offender from Mexico who had been deported five times.
The endorsement of Ellmers, the Republican official most conspicuously associated with a move to thwart pro-life legislation, could signal a deeper and more lasting fight over the direction of the Republican Party. Trump has said he would be willing to liberalize the Republican Party's platform on abortion by including exceptions for rape and incest. His former rival, Sen. Ted Cruz, has vowed he and his delegates will fight any attempt to water down the pro-life plank in the Republican Party's platform.
Hawkins hopes that Donald Trump, if not Ellmers, will listen to his party's grassroots voters about the importance of the right to life.
“I’m looking forward to meeting with Mr. Trump in a couple of weeks,” Hawkins told LifeSiteNews. “I'm praying it’s the former and that he is willing to consult with movement leaders before making such decisions in the future.”
“And not endorse candidates who have betrayed pro-lifers,” she added.
Full text of the robocall:
Hello, this is Donald Trump, and I'm calling to personally ask you to vote for Renee Ellmers on June 7. Renee was the first congresswoman to endorse me, and she really was terrific, and boy is she a fighter. I need her help in Washington so we can work together to defeat ISIS, secure our border, and bring back jobs and frankly so many other things. And Renee knows how to do it. She gets it. And together, we will make America great again. So, vote for Renee Ellmers on Tuesday, June 7. Thank you very much.