Republican Debate Marked by Absence of Pro-Life Issues

Politics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 8, 2011   |   11:12AM   |   Washington, DC

The Republican debate last night featured intense discussions among the candidates seeking the GOP nomination to take on pro-abortion President Barack Obama, but failed include any talk of pro-life issues.

Although the candidates gave their positions and attack each moderother’s views on political topics ranging from the economy and jobs to national defense and terrorism, the MSNBC and Politico moderators failed to ask the candidates any key questions about social issues, including the topic of abortion.

After the debate, pro-life former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews and decried the lack of focus on social issues. Ironically, Matthews tried to blame Santorum for the lack of attention to pro-life matters, saying, “No Republican on that stage really, including you, really wanted to focus on those hard social moral issues.”

Santorum objected, saying he and other Republicans were never asked the questions and that he received only a handful of questions compared to Republican frontrunners Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.

“I think I only got four or five questions,” he said. “Nobody asked me!”

“Nobody wanted to bring them up, Senator!” Matthews shouted back. “It seems like your party believes that you can’t win this general election if you talk about [social issues].”

“Wait a minute!” Santorum said. “Whoa! Your station didn’t ask me!”

Hadley Arkes, a pro-life professor, writing at National Review, said social issues could have been a good topic for Republicans to debate, especially for Santorum.

“Those issues could have played powerfully to the advantage of Rick Santorum, and in the balance of the program, as I saw it, Santorum was pushed to the periphery by the interviewers,” he said. “In what I could see of the transcript, it appears that they didn’t give Santorum a chance to speak about marriage or abortion.”

Ciara Matthews, the communications director for the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life political organization, also noted the absence of any focus on pro-life concerns.

“It’s no surprise there was little discussion of the pro-life issue since such strong pro-life candidates make up the Republican field,” she said. “The only difference among the candidates is the decision to sign our pledge, and we look forward to all of the candidates eventually deciding to sign on to its four important tenants.”

“The Republican field has a very strong field of pro-life candidates. The only clear difference among the candidates is their willingness to put their pro-life commitments in writing,” Matthews continued. “Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, New Gingrich and Thad McCotter have all signed the Susan B. Anthony List Pro-Life Presidential Leadership Pledge. Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney have yet to sign the pledge and we encourage them to do so.”

Voters looking for more information on the pro-life stances of the candidates will have to look back to Monday’s presidential forum in South Carolina, where Romney, Gingrich, Bachmann, Paul and Cain talked more about their pro-life views.

The eventual nominee will likely be pro-life and will likely challenge Obama on his extensive pro-abortion record.