NH sheriff candidate sorry for abortion comment

Republican Frank Szabo of Goffstown, New Hampshire

(CBS/AP) MANCHESTER, N.H. - A New Hampshire businessman running for Hillsborough County sheriff has apologized for saying he would not rule out the use of deadly force to halt an abortion from taking place.

Republican Frank Szabo of Goffstown had said he believes elective abortions are not lawful and would arrest any doctor who performs them.

When asked recently if he would use deadly force to prevent abortions, he said the sheriff should do "everything in their power" to prevent the abortion from happening. On Thursday, he retracted his comments, saying he let his passionate stance against abortion "get the better of me" and that it was "inexcusable."

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"As someone who has such a passionate respect for life, I also respect the life of abortion doctors, even if I don't respect what they do," Szabo said in the statement. "As sheriff, when the moral waters are murky, I would always air [sic] on the side of prudence. This isn't the 19th century, and I am a man of peace."

He also stood by his previous statement that a sheriff could arrest an abortion doctor, but acknowledged that due to the "system of checks and balances that America's founders set up, a sheriff would not have the final word on this matter." Because abortion is legal in the United States, a jury would probably side with the doctor, who could potentially file a countersuit against the sheriff, the statement said.

Szabo is one of four candidates running for county sheriff in the district that includes Manchester.

After his apology, he said he'd like to focus more on farm-related issues, vowing he would end "legal abuses," citing an incident in which an Oregon man was arrested for harvesting rain water on his own land and another in which a family in Michigan was ordered to kill their pigs because they were an "invasive species."