GOP Debate Focuses on Iraq War, Abortion
Friday, May 4, 2007; 2:00 AM
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. -- Alone among 10 Republican presidential contenders, Rudy Giuliani said in campaign debate Thursday night "it would be OK" if the Supreme Court upholds a 1973 landmark abortion rights ruling. "It would be OK to repeal it. It would be OK also if a strict constructionist viewed it as precedent," said the former New York city mayor, who has a record of supporting abortion rights.
In a party that draws strength from anti-abortion voters, Giuliani's nine GOP rivals agreed that it would be a great day if the court overturns the landmark ruling.
"Glorious day of human liberty and freedom," enthused Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney acknowledged he had changed his mind on the subject when he began to delve into the issue of cloning. He said his position had once effectively been "pro-choice."
But Giuliani, who said he personally hates abortion, hedged when asked about his current position.
"I think the Court has to make that decision and then the country can deal with it," he said. "... The states could then make their own decisions."
Alone among the top three contenders, Arizona Sen. John McCain has a career-long record of opposition to abortion.
The 10 rivals showed their conservative credentials across 90 minutes of debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, each claiming to be a worthy heir to the political legacy of the late 40th president.
They stressed the importance of persisting in Iraq, called for lower taxes and a muscular defense and supported spending restraint.
"The first pork barrel, earmark bill that crosses my desk I'm going to veto it and I'm going to make the author famous," said McCain.
Romney jumped in at that, saying that as governor he had cast a veto "hundreds of times." Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson put his total at some 1,900 vetoes.
The field split on another issue, with Brownback, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo raising their hands when moderator Chris Matthews asked who did not believe in evolution.