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no he cain't

Herman Cain Clarifies That He Is Pro-Life, Easily Confused [Updated]

Is Herman Cain actually pro-choice? That's what the political world wondered yesterday after Cain told Piers Morgan that abortion "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." More than any other issue, Cain's stance on abortion has the potential to seriously derail his book tour, er, campaign. He had to respond with a clear, full-throated endorsement of pro-life values. And he did. In a tweet.



But, actually, not end of story. Because we all heard him say that government shouldn't interfere with abortion decisions. Merely reiterating that he is "100 percent pro-life" doesn't quite explain why he said all those pro-choice-sounding things. So last night, Cain released a statement explaining exactly what was going through his mind in that CNN interview.


Yesterday in an interview with Piers Morgan on CNN, I was asked questions about abortion policy and the role of the President.

I understood the thrust of the question to ask whether that I, as president, would simply “order” people to not seek an abortion.

My answer was focused on the role of the President. The President has no constitutional authority to order any such action by anyone. That was the point I was trying to convey.

As to my political policy view on abortion, I am 100% pro-life. End of story.

I will appoint judges who understand the original intent of the Constitution. Judges who are committed to the rule of law know that the Constitution contains no right to take the life of unborn children.

I will oppose government funding of abortion. I will veto any legislation that contains funds for Planned Parenthood. I will do everything that a President can do, consistent with his constitutional role, to advance the culture of life."

He thought Morgan was asking him whether, as president, he would "order people to not seek an abortion"? As Cain points out, the president can't do that. Everyone knows the president can't do that. Whether or not the president should be allowed to do that has never been part of the abortion discussion. So why would Morgan ask him that, and why would Cain think that's what he was being asked?

If you take Cain at his word — quite a leap, really, if you reread the transcript, and re-watch his earlier interview with John Stossel, in which he made similar remarks, but okay — then he's as pro-life as the next guy. But he's also easily confused and almost comically unfamiliar with the debate over abortion.

You would also have to accept that Cain has an extremely nuanced philosophy on the legitimacy of government involvement in abortion decisions. He doesn't think a "president" or "some politician" or "a bureaucrat" should interfere in "such a sensitive issue." But a judge? Sure!

Cain Plays Life Defense [Page/Time]

Update: This afternoon, Cain went on Fox News and finally declared, very clearly, "I do not believe abortion should be legal in this country." Why was that so hard?

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Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images