Donald Trump is formally vetting a retired general as a potential running mate, but the 33-year Army veteran's views on social issues are sure to draw an outcry from Republicans already wary about Trump's conservative credentials.
Retired Lt. Gen Michael T. Flynn, who most recently served as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, is being vetted as a last-minute addition to Trump's pool of possible vice presidential picks, NBC News confirms.
But on ABC News Sunday, just one day after a Washington Post story outlined Trump's increased interest in selecting the iconoclastic former intelligence chief, Flynn suggested that he is in favor of abortion rights -- a position anathema to social conservatives.
"Abortion, I think it’s a, I think for women, and these are difficult issues, but I think women have to be able to choose,” Flynn said, when asked whether he believed in a woman’s right to an abortion.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List, said in a statement that Flynn's comments were disqualifying.
"General Flynn has disqualified himself from consideration as Vice President. His pro-abortion position is unacceptable and would undermine the pro-life policy commitments that Mr. Trump has made throughout the campaign," she said.
After a bitter primary in which many conservatives in the Republican Party have questioned Trump’s allegiance to the party's traditional principles, particularly on social issues, many GOP leaders have said they are looking to Trump’s running mate to shore up concerns.
But Flynn did little in his Sunday morning interview to quell those concerns – not even going as far as to commit to changing his party registration. Flynn is still a registered Democrat.
Flynn has served in recent months as an adviser to Trump, whom he said has the “responsible leadership” to serve in the White House.
“The direction of this county is going into the wrong direction,” Flynn said on Sunday, adding: “I vote for leaders.”
Flynn also refused to directly defend Trump’s claim that the Black Lives Matter movement is “a disgrace,” saying, “I’m not going to speak for Donald Trump.”
But he made his views clear on the tensions between law enforcement and the Black Lives Matter movement, calling Hillary Clinton’s speech earlier this week “totally irresponsible," suggesting that the presumptive Democratic nominee said "white people are to blame.”
“There’s one race that we have to worry about, and it’s the human race,” he said.