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Cruz and Kasich won’t actually explain why they wouldn’t punish women for abortion like Trump

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This story has been updated.

The other Republican campaigns are responding to Donald Trump’s statement that after banning abortion, there should be “some form of punishment” for women who get them. But while his GOP rivals all oppose the idea, none of them are actually offering a fully thought-out reason for why not.

“No, absolutely not,” John Kasich told Chuck Todd on MSNBC. “And I mean, I do have exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother. But of course women shouldn’t be punished. Look, you know, I think probably Donald Trump will figure out a way to say that he didn’t say it, or he was misquoted, or whatever. But I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s an appropriate response, and it’s a difficult enough situation to try to punish somebody.”

“Let me ask you this,” Todd responded. “How do you enforce a ban on abortion?”

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“Well, look, I think it’s rape, incest, life of the mother, and you build some restrictions around it,” Kasich said. “But I think you have to be very careful in the way you do it. We’re a long way from there.”

Ted Cruz has not yet responded publicly. But the Cruz campaign’s rapid response director, Brian Phillips, duly responded in a rapid fashion — by tweeting out that Trump is simply a fraud on the issue. Here are the highlights of his tweets — which literally begin by telling people not to think too much about the idea:

Cruz campaign chairman Chad Sweet then appeared on CNN, to explain the candidate’s position.

“Sen. Cruz shares the views of the pro-life movement, which for years has focused on punishing those who perform the abortions — not the women who get them,” Sweet declared. “And unfortunately, this has been another example of Donald Trump misstepping. Why? Because he’s a charlatan. This is a man who for the vast majority of his life didn’t just embrace abortion — he embraced extreme forms of abortion, all the way to partial-birth abortion.”

UPDATE, 6:30 p.m. ET: The Cruz campaign released a statement in the evening from the candidate himself, voicing his disagreement with Trump’s comment.

“Once again Donald Trump has demonstrated that he hasn’t seriously thought through the issues, and he’ll say anything just to get attention,” Cruz said. “On the important issue of the sanctity of life, what’s far too often neglected is that being pro-life is not simply about the unborn child; it’s also about the mother — and creating a culture that respects her and embraces life. Of course we shouldn’t be talking about punishing women; we should affirm their dignity and the incredible gift they have to bring life into the world.”

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Elections 2016

Betsy DeVos, Ben Carson send anti-trans signals to Trump’s evangelical base

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While Trump grabs headlines, his Cabinet members quietly use transphobia to shore up white evangelical support

The white evangelical vote is almost certainly a lock for Donald Trump in 2020, but it appears the president is taking no chances of losing this critical voting block. One major part of that strategy appears to be quietly deploying his Cabinet members, especially those associated with the Christian right, to generate stories highlighting the Trump administration's overt bigotry toward trans people, and its eagerness to deprive trans Americans of basic rights.

Just this week, both Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson snagged coverage by making community visits that were ostensibly for noble purposes, but were clearly meant to signal to Christian right voters their hostility to trans rights.

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Elections 2016

Intelligence official directly contradicts Trump administration’s excuses for suppressing whistleblower

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A top official in the intelligence community has disputed the factual basis for the Trump administration’s suppression of a whistleblower complaint believed to regard the potential misconduct of the president himself, a new letter released Thursday revealed.

The letter was made public by House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA). He is locked into a fierce and potentially explosive dispute with an array of forces within the administration to obtain the complaint, which was made through proper channels by an intelligence official last month to the community’s inspector general. Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson determined that the complaint was “credible” and “urgent,” and subsequent reporting from the Washington Post found that it concerns a “promise” made by Trump in communication with a foreign leader.

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Longtime GOP strategist explains why his party is getting crushed in the war of ideas

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Republican strategist Stuart Stevens on Wednesday warned the GOP that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) might not be a pushover candidate against President Donald Trump in 2020.

Writing on Twitter, Stevens admitted that he had "no idea" if Warren would beat Trump next year, but he did say that "Trump and supporters are destroying [the] credibility of any center-right argument" thanks to Trump's "corrupt and unstable" governance.

When one of Stevens' followers said that Warren would not be able to fulfill her promises just by taxing the wealthy, he countered that this idea is still more popular than anything Republicans are championing.

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