GOP rivals nearly united about Iraq, spar over abortion

first_imgDES MOINES, Iowa – Republican presidential contenders sparred over abortion on Sunday while generally agreeing U.S. troops must remain in Iraq to help win the War on Terror. “Just come home,” dissented Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the lone advocate of a quick troop withdrawal on a presidential campaign debate stage. He said there had never been a good reason to go to war in the first place. “Has he forgotten about 9-11?” interjected former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. But it was Romney who was forced to answer on the issue of abortion, when Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback defended automated phone calls his campaign has made highlighting his rival’s onetime support for pro-choice policies. Giuliani saved his sharpest jabs for Democrats. “In four debates, not a single Democrat said the word `Islamic terrorists.’ Now that is taking political correctness to extreme,” he said. Romney, too, was eager to criticize Democrats. His chosen target was Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, who said recently he would be willing to meet with the leaders of Cuba, North Korea and Iran in his first year in office and declared in a speech he would order military action to capture terrorists in Pakistan if that nation’s president did not. “I mean, in one week he went from saying he’s going to sit down, you know, for tea, with our enemies, but then he’s going to bomb our allies,” said Romney. “I mean, he’s gone from Jane Fonda to Dr. Strangelove in one week.” Giuliani provided a rare moment of laughter, dodging a question about the defining mistake of his life with a quip. “Your father is a priest,” the former mayor said to moderator George Stephanopoulos. “I’m going to explain it to your father, not to you, OK?160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “It’s truthful,” Brownback said. “I am pro-life. I think this is a core issue for our party.” Romney called it “desperate, maybe negative,” adding moments later, “I get tired of people that are holier than thou because they’ve been pro-life longer than I have.” The debate unfolded on a Drake University stage, hosted and carried live by ABC, five months before Iowa caucuses begin winnowing the field of White House contenders. Arizona Sen. John McCain, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Romney, the most prominent contenders, agreed U.S. troops must remain in Iraq. So, too, did Brownback, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson and Reps. Tom Tancredo of Colorado and Duncan Hunter of California. “I firmly believe that the challenge for the 21st century is a challenge against radical extremism,” McCain said. last_img