Republican Candidates Proudly Wear Pro-Life Label at Debate

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 14, 2011   |   10:12AM   |   Washington, DC

At last night’s Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire, the site of the second primary election battleground, the presidential hopefuls seeking to take on pro-abortion President Barack Obama touted their pro-life positions on abortion.

Four of the candidates seeking the Republican nomination proudly wore their pro-life views on their sleeve as they responded to questions from CNN debate moderators and voters.

Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, received the first question on abortion and it had CNN’s Jennifer Vaughn attempt to goad him into attacking former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who changed his position on abortion from supporting it to pro-life a couple of years before he ran for president the first time in 2008.

“Senator Santorum, staying with you for a moment, if I may, you are staunchly pro-life. Governor Romney used to support abortion rights until he changed his position on this a few years ago. This has been thoroughly discussed. But do you believe he genuinely changed his mind, or was that a political calculation? Should this be an issue in this primary campaign?” Vaughn asked.

Santorum was clearly not ready to go after Romney, and he replied, “I think — I think an issue should be — in looking at any candidate is looking at the authenticity of that candidate and looking at their — at their record over time and what they fought for. And I think that’s — that a factor that — that should be determined.”

The former congressman then shifted to his own position on abortion, which has been consistently pro-life.

“You can look at my record. Not only have I been consistently pro-life, but I’ve taken the — you know, I’ve not just taken the pledge, I’ve taken the bullets to go out there and fight for this and lead on those issues. And I think that’s a factor that people should consider when you — when you look, well, what is this president going to do when he comes to office?” he said.

Santorum continued, “A lot of folks run for president as pro-life and then that issue gets shoved to the back burner. I will tell you that the issue of pro-life, the sanctity and dignity of every human life, not just at birth, not just on the issue of abortion, but with respect to the entire life, which I mentioned welfare reform and — and the dignity of people at the end of life, those issues will be top priority issues for me to make sure that all life is respected and held with dignity.”

Romney was given a brief time to respond to the question as well and he said he is now “firmly pro-life.”

“People have had a chance to look at my record and look what I’ve said as — as I’ve been through that last campaign. I believe people understand that I’m firmly pro-life,” he said. “I will support justices who believe in following the Constitution and not legislating from the bench. And I believe in the sanctity of life from the very beginning until the very end.”

CNN then turned to a New Hampshire voter who had a question for Rep. Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota congresswoman who just today announced she will seek the Republican nomination.

“I am 100 percent pro-life. I’ve given birth to five babies, and I’ve taken 23 foster children into my home. I believe in the dignity of life from conception until natural death. I believe in the sanctity of human life,” Bachmann said.

“And I think the most eloquent words ever written were those in our Declaration of Independence that said it’s a creator who endowed us with inalienable rights given to us from God, not from government. And the beauty of that is that government cannot take those rights away. Only God can give, and only God can take,” she continued. “And the first of those rights is life. And I stand for that right. I stand for the right to life. The very few cases that deal with those exceptions are the very tiniest of fraction of cases, and yet they get all the attention. Where all of the firepower is and where the real battle is, is on the general — genuine issue of taking an innocent human life. I stand for life from conception until natural death.”

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty also responded to the question on abortion and pointed to his long record of signing and supporting pro-life legislation.

“Well, this is a great example where we can look at our records. The National Review Online, which is a conservative publication, said based on results — not just based on words — I was probably the most pro-life candidate in this race,” he said.

“As governor of the state of Minnesota, I appointed to the Supreme Court a conservative court for the first time in the modern history of my state. We passed the most pro-life legislation anytime in the modern history of the state, which I proposed and signed, including women’s right to know, including positive alternatives to abortion legislation, and many others,” Pawlenty continued. “I’m solidly pro-life. The main pro-life organization in Minnesota gives me very, very high marks. And I haven’t just talked about these things; I’ve done it.”