Countdown to Herman Cain "Clarifying" His Abortion Position

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 20 2011 12:23 PM

Countdown to Herman Cain "Clarifying" His Abortion Position

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Former CEO of Godfather's Pizza and Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain speaks at the Western Republican Leadership Conference at The Venetian October 19, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. In recent polls Cain has shot up to be a front running contender, along with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Herman Cain gets trapped by Piers Morgan -- Piers Morgan! -- into a muddled discussion of abortion rights. Cain starts with his "life begins at the moment of conception" line, then gets a hypothetical question about his daughter getting impregnated by a rapist, then says... this.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

It comes down to, it's 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 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.

Literally, of course, President Cain would not intervene personally in families' lives and tell them how to deal with unexpected pregnancies. He would appoint judges who effectively do that. He's said his model Supreme Court justice is Clarence Thomas. But here we see a candidate who has spent a lot of time talking the language of libertarian businessmen, and less time programming himself in the patois of social conservatives. Why use the word "choice" at all? You're just asking Rick Santorum to jump out from behind a dumpster and start taking swings at you, which he's already doing. ("Herman's pro-choice position is similar to those held by John Kerry, Barack Obama and many others on the liberal left." Thanks, Rick!)

But Rick Santorum doesn't really matter; social conservatives aren't going to waste their time tearing down a guy they like to elevate a niche candidate who can only split the anti-Romney vote. Erick Erickson matters. He reports that this video's been "spread far and wide among pro-life groups, many of which were gearing up to rally to him."

Look, I know Herman is pro-life. And I don’t doubt his conviction. But that’s because I know him personally. I also know at least one pro-life group by mid-morning this morning was in serious conversation about his statements last night and they want some clarity consistent with a statement he gave earlier in the week.

There we go. It's up to Cain whether he pulls a long, tortured, that's-not-what-I-said defense, as he did with his Muslim hiring comments, or whether he just flip-flops like he did on Gitmo prisoners. It probably helps that he was "trapped" by CNN, which has been taking a beating from conservatives since the debate. It also helps that the death of Gaddafi makes this the bottom news of the day. He can flip his way free.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics



Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?