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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.”

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

“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:

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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.”

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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

Vietnamese women strive to clear war-era mines

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Inching across a field littered with Vietnam war-era bombs, Ngoc leads an all-women demining team clearing unexploded ordnance that has killed tens of thousands of people -- including her uncle.

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More than 6.1 million hectares of land in Vietnam remain blanketed by unexploded munitions -- mainly dropped by US bombers -- decades after the war ended in 1975.

At least 40,000 Vietnamese have since died in related accidents. Victims are often farmers who accidentally trigger explosions, people salvaging scrap metal, or children who mistake bomblets for toys.

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Elections 2016

Chief Justice John Roberts issues New Year’s Eve warning to stand up for democracy

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In a progressive welcoming move, Chief Justice John Roberts issued his New Year's Eve annual report urging his fellow federal judges to stand up for democracy.

"In our age, when social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public's need to understand our government, and the protections it provides, is ever more vital," he wrote. "We should celebrate our strong and independent judiciary, a key source of national unity and stability."

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Trump’s next 100 days will dictate whether he can be re-elected or not — here’s why

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According to CNN pollster-in-residence Harry Enten, Donald Trump's next 100 days -- which could include an impeachment trial in the Senate -- will hold the key to whether he will remain president in 2020.

As Eten explains in a column for CNN, "His [Trump's] approval rating has been consistently low during his first term. Yet his supporters could always point out that approval ratings before an election year have not historically been correlated with reelection success. But by mid-March of an election year, approval ratings, though, become more predictive. Presidents with low approval ratings in mid-March of an election year tend to lose, while those with strong approval ratings tend to win in blowouts and those with middling approval ratings usually win by small margins."

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