Republican Candidates Largely Agree on Abortion, Abstinence in Debate

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 18, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Republican Candidates Largely Agree on Abortion, Abstinence in Debate

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 18,

Washington, DC ( — Several of the Republican presidential candidates participated in a debate sponsored by a national pro-life organization and they largely agreed on contentious issues like abortion, abstinence and embryonic stem cell research. The debate was marked by the absence of the four leading candidates.

Last night’s forum may be remembered more for which candidates did not attend rather than the answers of those who did.

The top Republican candidates in the polls — Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain and Fred Thompson — all declined to attend the "Values Voters" debate.

Jan Folger, president of Faith2Action, one of the groups sponsoring the debate, said the four "will regret the decision."

"Because they snubbed us, they will not win, because we will not follow their lead," she said.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, Chicago businessman John Cox, former candidate Alan Keyes and Reps. Ron Paul of Texas, Tom Tancredo of Colorado and Duncan Hunter of California all attended the debate.

All seven said they would vote to keep federal funding from groups that promote or perform abortions in other nations. They indicated they would keep federal abstinence education funding in place and would oppose making taxpayers fund embryonic stem cell research.

”If a potential Supreme Court justice can look at a sonogram and not see a valuable human life, I will not appoint that judge to the bench,” Hunter told the crowd.

Keyes linked abortion to the fight against terrorism, adding, "The killing is the same. The principle is the same."

Brownback said the nation needs to return to three basic values: life, family and faith.

Folger said a straw poll held after the event showed Huckabee as the winner of the debate as he received nearly five times the votes of the other candidates.

“While many very good candidates attended the event, Governor Mike Huckabee was the clear winner,” she told

However, after the debate, the Brownback campaign claimed Huckabee faltered on the issue of international abortions.

When asked if he would apply the principle of the Mexico City Policy, which prevents taxpayer funding of international pro-abortion groups, Huckabee seemed confused and twice asked clarifying questions that indicated his ignorance of a major element of pro-life policy on the federal level.

"Time and time again, Senator Brownback has been on the leading edge of the fight to protect the right to life," John Rankin, Iowa communications director for Brownback, told "Other candidates might talk about being pro-life, but none can match Senator Brownback’s record of demonstrated leadership."

The Brownback campaign has not returned a request for a comment in response.