Troy Newman, president of radical anti-choice group Operation Rescue, issued a formal endorsement of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in a statement released Tuesday. Newman told Rewire that his endorsement was “welcomed” by the Trump campaign.
“After examining Trump’s position on life issues and his assurances that he will appoint conservative, pro-life justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, I am convinced that Trump offers our best hope of pushing back the Culture of Death in America,” Newman said in his statement, which was posted to Operation Rescue’s website.
Newman later told Rewire by email that the Trump campaign “did not ask or seek my endorsement. But it was welcomed.”
The Trump campaign did not respond to Rewire‘s request for an interview.
Operation Rescue is known for its extremist opposition to abortion rights. In 2002, the group moved to Wichita, Kansas to continue its campaign to intimidate abortion provider Dr. George Tiller—who died in 2009 after being shot. Newman later issued a statement condemning Tiller’s killer, but the phone number of a member of Operation Rescue was found on the dashboard of the killer’s car.
Newman has been known for using violent rhetoric about abortion, and suggested in his book, Their Blood Cries Out, that abortion providers should be executed. He co-founded the discredited anti-choice front group known as the Center for Medical Progress, which has led a national smear campaign against Planned Parenthood while working closely with GOP lawmakers.
“Trump has promised to stand strongly for life and appoint pro-life justices to the Supreme Court,” Newman said. “His Vice-Presidential running mate, Gov. Mike Pence, is a pro-life warrior who has promised to work toward ending abortion. No other GOP ticket in history has made such commitments to the Pro-life Movement.”
Newman’s endorsement comes just days after Trump completely ignored abortion rights while speaking at the conservative Values Voter Summit Friday in Washington, D.C.—a notable omission given the candidate’s shifting position on the topic.
Newman previously co-chaired failed Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz’s (TX) anti-choice advisory council, Pro-Lifers for Cruz, but signaled he may be ready to shift his support to Trump after meeting with the candidate in June.
Though Newman encouraged anti-choice supporters to back Trump, he acknowledged the candidate hasn’t been a “perfect” option.
“While no political candidate is a perfect person, we must engage the political system as it stands today for the sake of protecting innocent life,” continued Newman.
He criticized Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for defending reproductive rights and health, claiming a Clinton administration would result in “more abortion, more tax funding of abortion, and favors for her campaign contributors at Planned Parenthood.”
The Hyde Amendment blocks most federal funding for abortion, but Clinton opposes it.
Reproductive rights advocate NARAL Pro-Choice America, which has endorsed Clinton, released a statement condemning Newman and aligning the controversial anti-abortion activist with the Trump campaign.
“By endorsing Donald Trump, anti-choice extremist Troy Newman has taken his place among the ranks of David Duke and others who fuel Trump’s bigoted and hateful campaign,” NARAL President Ilyse Hogue wrote in the statement.
“Newman’s endorsement just goes to show why Trump has brought together the anti-choice movement and the racist, misogynistic alt-right: All of them share an intense desire to put women down and prevent us from being full partners in society. We deserve better. America deserves better,” the statement continued.