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Trump hires anti-abortion activist who once declared 'anyone but Trump'

Before joining Trump's campaign, Marjorie Dannenfelser said voters "cannot trust" him to "defend both unborn children and the dignity of women."
September 16, 2016, 2:25pm
Marjorie Jones Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

For anti-abortion crusader Marjorie Dannenfelser, Donald Trump has been an acquired taste.

The president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion non-profit, Dannenfelser has been vocally opposed to Trump this election, "speaking out and urging Republican caucus-goers and voters to support anyone but Donald Trump" in an open letter posted on her group's site in January.

But that was several months ago, and much has changed: Trump is now the nominee, for one thing. As of Friday, Dannenfelser will now join fellow ex-"Never Trump" conservatives in their assimilation, chairing his coalition of "pro-life" leaders.

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It's possible that Trump's VP pick of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence changed Dannenfelser's calculus: Pence's record is so anti-abortion that he once signed a bill requiring women to provide funerals for aborted fetuses.

The Dannenfelser announcement came in a letter from Trump to anti-abortion activists across the country.

"Dear Pro-Life Leader," it begins. "I am writing to invite you to join my campaign's Pro-Life Coalition, which is being spearheaded by longtime leader Marjorie Dannenfelser."

"As we head into the final stretch of the campaign, the help of leaders like you is essential to ensure that pro-life voters know where I stand, and also know where my opponent, Hillary Clinton, stands," it continues.

Trump rattles off his differences from Clinton, opposing "on-demand" abortion and repeal of the Hyde Amendment while advocating to defund Planned Parenthood (they do "very good work for millions of women," Trump said in March, still getting used to the Republican line). As The Hill observed, this is usually the time when candidates of both parties shift to the center to broaden their base, but clearly the Trump camp thinks it has work to do to make sure the evangelical wing of the Republican party is energized in November.

In January, Dannenfesler drew her own contrast with Trump, showing just how far he had to go to earn the trust of anti-abortion activists. "America will only be a great nation when we have leaders of strong character who will defend both unborn children and the dignity of women," she said at the time. "We cannot trust Donald Trump to do either."