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DeSantis sticks by anti-abortion policy stance. To critics? They can 'chirp,' he says

Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a campaign event on Monday, July 17, 2023, in Tega Cay, S.C. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)
Meg Kinnard/AP
Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a campaign event on Monday, July 17, 2023, in Tega Cay, S.C. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke to South Carolina reporters Aug. 3 about his 2024 campaign and whether he can break through in a state home to challengers Nikki Haley and Tim Scott.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday said people and groups can "chirp" all they want over his position that abortion restrictions work best from a "bottom-up" state approach.

But the 2024 Republican presidential hopeful said he is not changing his stance.

Last month, the nation's leading anti-abortion group, Susan B. Anthony Pro-life America, called DeSantis' abortion position "unacceptable" when he said in an interview that he doubted Congress would do "anything meaningful" on abortion.

"At the end of the day, you know, people can chirp, and these groups can say this or that. You know, I'm the only candidate running that's actually delivered results with respect to right to life," DeSantis told South Carolina reporters by Zoom Thursday.

Abortions are currently legal in Florida up to 15 weeks of pregnancy. Similar to South Carolina, Florida lawmakers have passed a six-week abortion ban that hasn't taken effect.

DeSantis said Congress has not been "productive" on many issues, throwing cold water on the idea that federal action, at least on the issue of abortion policy, is "somehow going to be some type of saving grace."

DeSantis has been far from the only GOP hopeful criticized over abortion policy.

So too have other 2024 hopefuls, including former President Donald Trump and South Caroliniansformer Gov. Nikki Haley and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott.

DeSantis' call with South Carolina reporters Thursday was part of a broader media reach as the Republican hopeful tries to break out in early voting states where Trump still continues to hold a solid lead.

Also Thursday, DeSantis' campaign rolled out 35 new South Carolina endorsements from current and former public officials. DeSantis said that shows "when people see us, when they see what we've been able to accomplish, they come on board."

A recent Fox Business pollshowed Trump with a 48% lead among S.C. GOP primary voters, followed by Haley with 14%. DeSantis was in third with 13%, then Scott with 10%.

Trump, who now faces his third indictment — Trump was indicted Aug. 1 on four new felony charges related to efforts to overturn the 2020 results — is scheduled to speak Saturday at the South Carolina Republican Party's annual Silver Elephant dinner.

DeSantis told reporters he expects the race to narrow greatly after Iowa and New Hampshire vote in January. As far as his campaign? He'll be in South Carolina, he said.

"If the election becomes about the past, if it becomes about what happened three or four years ago, five or six years ago," DeSantis said that President Joe Biden could have an advantage. "And we're going to end up saying, ... 'What happened? How come we can't win these elections?'

Maayan Schechter (My-yahn Schek-ter) is a news reporter with South Carolina Public Radio and ETV. She worked at South Carolina newspapers for a decade, previously working as a reporter and then editor of The State’s S.C. State House and politics team, and as a reporter at the Aiken Standard and the Greenville News. She grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and graduated from the University of North Carolina-Asheville in 2013.