Yesterday, Leon Wolf wrote that Herman Cain’s abortion position sounds much like that of the mythical pro-life Democrat, or like those Democrats who try to cast themselves as “personally” pro-life, but who would not do anything to actually change the law.
On Piers Morgan’s show on CNN, Herman Cain seemingly took the position that while he is pro-life and things abortion is wrong, he would not as President do anything to stop women from having abortions.
Later, he clarified his statement:
“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.”
This is the second time in as many days where Herman has walked something back claiming to have misunderstood a reporter’s questions. The problem though, is that it is difficult to claim Piers Morgan was asking if Cain would order people to not have abortions based on how Herman himself answered the question. From the transcript:
MORGAN: By expressing the view that you expressed, you are effectively — you might be president. You can’t hide behind now the mask, if you don’t mind me saying, of being the pizza guy. You might be the president of United States of America. So your views on these things become exponentially massively more important. They become a directive to the nation.
CAIN: No they don’t. I can have an opinion on an issue without it being a directive on the nation. The government shouldn’t be trying to tell people everything to do, especially when it comes to social decisions that they need to make.
Herman did not raise the issue of him, as President, doing something. He answered as “the government shouldn’t be trying to tell people everything to do.” This is consistent with an interview Herman gave back in July where there was no wiggle on saying he misunderstood.
Here he is on John Stossel’s show.
His statement from late yesterday seems to put this all to rest, but you’ll have to forgive pro-lifers who have been betrayed often by “pro-life” politicians who say they are pro-life only to do nothing about it in office. Herman’s statement in July is consistent with his statement two nights ago and both are clearly premised on him being personally pro-life, but unwilling to push for making abortion illegal.
After all, John Stossel did not ask Herman if he wanted to order people not to have abortions. A clear review of the Stossel conversation leaves no wiggle room for Herman to say he misunderstood.
CAIN: I’m pro-life from conception, yes.
STOSSEL: Any cases where it should be legal?
CAIN: I don’t think government should make that decision.
He wasn’t talking about the President. The question was not premised on Herman Cain trying to make it illegal or legal. It was premised on government in general and Cain’s response was that “government should not make that decision.”
Let me say this — I know Herman Cain. I know Herman Cain is pro-life. Remember this? I don’t doubt his sincerity in the least little bit. I don’t doubt that as President, Herman would be an advocate for life. I believe his clarifying statement from yesterday.
What I do think, however, is that Herman is, as he says he is, not a politician. As much as that is a good thing, I think it also gets him into trouble. If Herman keeps saying he misunderstood reporters, at some point that becomes just another excuse. As I wrote in the Horserace yesterday, “The [media] narrative is that Herman wants it both ways. He says X and then says Y and then, when pressed, says he misunderstood, is not afraid to say he did not know, or tries to reconcile the positions. He’s going to have to be clearer and more decisive to hold on to a lead many think he can’t.”
Pro-lifers who are as yet uncommitted in this race want clarity on the subject above all else.