Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain sought to clarify his position on abortion Friday afternoon in an appearance on Fox News.
"Abortion should not be legal, that is clear. But if that family made a decision to break the law, that's that family's decision, that's all I'm trying to say," he said.
CNN's Piers Morgan asked Cain Wednesday about his view on abortion in the case of rape. "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. I shouldn't have to tell them what decision to make for such a sensitive issue," he said. In the same interview, he said he believes life begins at conception, and that he does not believe in abortion under any circumstances.
The Huffington Post's Jon Ward reported that Cain's comments roiled Iowa Republicans, who hold special importance as voters in the first state in the primary process. A University of Iowa poll released Friday showed that Cain leads former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in Iowa by a 37-27 margin.
His rival, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), said his stance was "the quintessential pro-choice position on abortion."
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) also criticized Cain Friday in an interview with Radio Iowa. "Clearly the words out of his mouth indicated that he was in favor of a pro-abortion position, so I think there's a lot of questions that people have [about Cain]," she said.
Cain was asked on Fox News whether it would be problematic for his campaign. "Well I'm sorry if it's going to be problematic. Let me just state again, I am pro-life from conception, no exceptions," Cain replied. "I was trying to separate two situations here, and if they won't allow me to separate those two situations, they won't allow me to separate those two situations. That's unfortunate. I don't know how much more I can say that if I am pro-life from conception no exceptions, I will not fund any abortions by the government, I will sign any legislation to defund Planned Parenthood and all of the other variations of this whole pro-life issue."
Cain also defended his 999 plan against a report by the Tax Policy Center showing that 84 percent of taxpayers would see their taxes raised: "That is erroneous information. Even the tax policy group that did that admitted at the end of it that they took out the poverty provision that we had and they took out the opportunity zone provision, I get frustrated. They changed the assumptions, saying that 84 percent of the people are going to pay more in taxes is a lie, L-I-E, lie."
In ending the appearance, Cain reminded viewers: "Remember, 999 means jobs, jobs, jobs, and that's why they're attacking it."
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