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For McCain, Views on Abortion Come to the Fore

John McCain is campaigning on his social conservative record in S.C. (The Washington Post).

By Juliet Eilperin
ON MCCAIN'S STRAIGHT TALK EXPRESS, S.C. -- When Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was courting New Hampshire voters, the issue of abortion rarely came up in his town hall meetings or stump speeches. But now, he mentions it on nearly every stop.

When asked to explain his position during a town hall meeting in Florence this morning, McCain replied, "I've been pro-life my entire political career. I have never changed, in even-numbered years or odd-numbered years, or depending on what office I was running for. Now, that's a cheap shot," he joked, alluding to his rival Mitt Romney, who backed abortion rights while running for statewide office in Massachusetts but now opposes them. "The rights of the unborn are as important as the rights of the born."

In an interview with reporters afterward on his campaign bus, he said he wasn't surprised the issue of abortion had surfaced more often now that he's running in South Carolina. "Yeah, I think Henry [McMaster, the state's attorney general] will tell you, this is a very socially conservative state, especially this part of the state."

McCain has also touted the fact here that he backs judges that "will strictly interpret the Constitution." When asked whether he would use abortion as a litmus test for an judge he would nominate to sit on the Supreme Court, the senator replied, "I think Roe v. Wade was a wrong decision, of course. But I'm not going to say, 'I'm going to appoint this judge because they're going to overturn Roe v. Wade.'"

"It's not social issues I care about. It's the Constitution of the United States I care about," he said, adding that when it comes to many social conservatives here, "They will trust my judgment to appoint a justice to the Supreme Court that will strictly observe the Constitution."

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 18, 2008; 5:06 PM ET
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