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Trump camp reaches out to pastors after abortion ruling

Kevin Cirilli
Bloomberg

The Trump campaign reached out directly to Christian leaders in the aftermath the Supreme Court’s overturning of Texas abortion laws on Monday, while deciding against releasing official statements or social media postings.

Earlier Monday, the campaign engaged its recently-appointed Executive Evangelical Advisory Board about the ruling, reaffirming Trump’s commitment to appoint pro-life justices to the nation’s highest court, according to people familiar with the conversations.

Afterward, the board released a statement obtained by Bloomberg Politics echoing the campaign’s message and referring to a meeting of more than 1,000 religious leaders in Manhattan last week.

“In an unprecedented meeting last week with American Christian leaders, Donald J. Trump promised to only appoint pro-life justices,” the board’s statement said. “We commend him and pray that the tragedy of today’s ruling will not be repeated in subsequent administrations.”

The campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mark Burns, who frequently introduces Trump at his rallies and is a member of the board, said that the ruling served as a reminder that the abortion issue remained of the utmost importance to conservative justices.

“This is exactly why many Christians across America are single issue voters this election,” Burns said. “Their sole focus is the types of Supreme Court justices that each candidate will appoint.”

Several evangelical leaders who met with Trump last week said the presumptive Republican nominee has made himself clear and doesn’t need to issue another statement.

“He doesn’t need to repeat himself,” said Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, an activist organization that works to shut down abortion clinics. “He said he’d defund Planned Parenthood and put pro-life justices on the Supreme Court and that’s the cure. Right now, the judiciary is the problem.”

Newman was among the evangelical and Catholic leaders at the Marriott Marquis in New York on Tuesday who asked Trump about abortion, the military, ISIS, religious liberty and other topics. Newman is a “sad Ted Cruz supporter,” he said, who left last week’s meeting certain that he can support the businessman “with fervor.”

“If there was one theme to emerge out of it, it would be the pro-life theme,” Newman said. “There’s always going to be the naysayers in the group, but the general consensus was he’s our man, and we’re going to work for him.”

Instead of commenting on the court’s decision, Trump spent much of Monday hitting familiar targets. On Twitter, he lashed out at CNN, saying the network’s coverage was “all negative when it comes to me.” After facing a blistering attack by Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who campaigned together in Ohio, Trump blasted Warren as “racist.”

He also kept up his digs on Clinton, saying she had incorrectly predicted the outcome of the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union. “The media is unrelenting. They will only go with and report a story in a negative light. I called Brexit (Hillary was wrong), watch November,” Trump tweeted.