Giuliani stands alone on abortion

Nine other presidential hopefuls agree it would be a great day if the '73 ruling is overturned.

Published May 4, 2007

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. - Alone among 10 Republican presidential contenders, Rudy Giuliani said in a campaign debate Thursday night "it would be okay" if the Supreme Court upholds a 1973 abortion rights ruling.

"It would be okay to repeal it. It would be okay also if a strict constructionist viewed it as precedent, " said the former New York mayor, who has a record of supporting abortion rights.

His nine rivals agreed that it would be a great day if the court overturns the landmark ruling.

But Giuliani hedged when asked about his present position.

"I think the court has to make that decision and then the country can deal with it, " he said.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney acknowledged he had changed his mind on the subject. He said his position had once effectively been "pro-choice."

Alone among the top three contenders, Arizona Sen. John McCain has a career-long record of opposition to abortion.

Giuliani, McCain and Romney were the first among 10 equals on the debate stage at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library - the men with the most money and the best approval ratings in the polls more than eight months before the first 2008 national convention delegates are picked.

Other participants included Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas; former Govs. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin, Jim Gilmore of Virginia, and Reps. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, Duncan Hunter of California and Ron Paul of Texas.

There was no dissent about the importance of the U.S. military mission in Iraq.

McCain said the war effort is now on the right track, although he said that until recently, the war had been "terribly mismanaged" by the Bush administration. "Terribly mismanaged, " he repeated for emphasis.

"We should never retreat in the face of terrorism, " said Giuliani, adding, "terrible mistake."

Romney also said the United States must support the government of Nouri al-Maliki in its efforts to combat terrorism.

"I want to get our troops home as soon as we possibly can, but at the same time we don't want to get them out in such a precipitous way that we have to go back, " he said, warning that too hasty a departure could lead to chaos in the region.

Reagan's widow, Nancy, attended the debate, listening as the men vying to become the nation's 44th president said they were the rightful successors to her husband, the 40th.