Santorum, Bachmann hammer Cain on abortion comments

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and former CEO of Godfather's Pizza Herman Cain participate during the Republican presidential debate airing on CNN, October 18, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Seven GOP contenders are taking part in the debate, which is sponsored by the Western Republican Leadership Conference in Las Vegas and held in the Venetian Hotel's Sands Expo and Convention Center. Getty Images/Ethan Miller

Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and Herman Cain
Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and Herman Cain participate during the Republican presidential debate airing on CNN, October 18, 2011 in Las Vegas.
Getty Images/Ethan Miller
Republican presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum blasted rival Herman Cain after Cain's unclear statements on abortion Wednesday.

Speaking on CNN Wednesday, Cain initially said he opposed abortions even in cases of rape and incest, but later suggested the decision should be left to families.

"It ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make. Not me as president, not some politician, not a bureaucrat. It gets down to that family. And whatever they decide, they decide," Cain said. He later tweeted that he is "100% pro life."

Alice Stewart said, Bachmann's communications director, noted in response to the comments that "Michele has always been 100 percent pro-life from conception to natural death."

"This year, more than ever, we cannot settle on a candidate who is not consistent on this critical issue," she added.

While the Bachmann campaign has been relatively restrained in response to Cain's comments, whould could have serious implications in evangelical-heavy Iowa, Santorum has aggressively criticized his rival for the comments, most recently sending out an email blast to his supporters titled "Floored."

"Probably like me, you were absolutely floored by what Herman Cain said on CNN last night," Santorum told supporters.

Earlier Thursday, Santorum's campaign sent reporters a statement the candidate made in New Hampshire about Cain's comments. Santorum said Cain's stance put him on the same side as the "liberal left" when it comes to abortion and likened Cain to President Obama.

"I find it gravely troubling that Herman believes it's a life, but that he doesn't consider it a life worth fighting for," the former Pennsylvania senator said.

Cain's statement gives Santorum an opportunity to tout his record opposing abortion rights to social conservative voters. Santorum, who proposed several pieces of legislation opposing abortion rights during his time in Congress, frequently brings up his personal experience dealing with a sick child who had what was predicted to be a fatal birth defect - and his decision not to terminate the child's life.

Cain's abortion comments could prove damaging in Iowa

  • Rodney Hawkins On Twitter»

    Rodney Hawkins covers the 2012 presidential campaign for CBS News and National Journal.

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