Herman Cain: What did he say about abortion?

Herman Cain came under attack for his pro-life position. What did Herman Cain say exactly?

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Republican presidential candidate businessman Herman Cain speaks at the Faith and Freedom Coalition forum, in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday.

Herman Cain’s been getting slammed by his opponents for statements he made in a recent interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan suggesting that his position on abortion is, um, not particularly coherent.

You can watch the interview yourself, but we’ve transcribed the relevant bits below:

MORGAN: What’s your view of abortion?

CAIN: I believe that life begins at conception and abortion under no circumstances - and here’s why

MORGAN: No circumstances?

CAIN: No circumstances.

MORGAN: Because many of your fellow candidates - well, certainly, some of them - qualify that

CAIN: they qualify it, but

MORGAN: rape, and incest, and so on.

CAIN: rape and incest

MORGAN: Are you honestly saying - a tricky question, i know

CAIN: a tricky question

MORGAN: You’ve had children, grandchildren


MORGAN: If one of your female children, grandchildren was raped, you would honestly want her to bring up that baby as her own?

CAIN: See, you’re mixing two things here Piers.


CAIN: You’re mixing two things here

MORGAN: But that’s what it comes down to

CAIN: What it comes down to is not the government’s role or anybody else’s role to make that decision. Secondly, if you look at the statistical incidents, you’re not talking about that big a number. So what I’m saying is 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 try to tell them what decision to make for such a sensitive decision.

MORGAN: But by expressing the view that you’ve expressed, you are effectively… You might be president. You can’t hide behind the mask of being the pizza guy. You might be president of the 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 a social decision that they need to make.

MORGAN: That’s a very interesting departure from the normal politics.

CAIN: Exactly.

Cain’s campaign later released a statement attempting to clarify his position, saying:

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.

The whole episode has given Cain’s opponents a clear opening to attack. Rick Santorum told the Associated Press that Cain’s position was “basically the position that just about every pro-choice politician has in America.”

And at Saturday’s Faith and Freedom Coalition banquet in Des Moines, Iowa, Rick Perry took a clear jab at Cain (though without naming him personally), with this remark:

“It is a liberal canard to say I am personally pro-life but government should stay out of that decision. If that is your view, you are not pro-life, you are pro having your cake and eating it too.”

More intriguing, CNN reported that an anonymous leaflet was distributed on car windshields outside the banquet, saying “Herman Cain threw the babies under the bus,” and quoting Cain’s remarks from the CNN interview: “It ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make.”

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