A new poll puts businessman Herman Cain at the top of the Republican presidential heap in socially conservative Iowa, but his "muddled" views on abortion may drag him down again. On Wednesday night, CNN's Piers Morgan asked Cain about abortion, and his answer was "simply bizarre," says Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post. After saying that abortion should be allowed "under no circumstances," he then said that when it comes to rape and incest, "it ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make. Not me as president." (Watch video below) After the show aired, Cain took to Twitter: "I'm 100% pro-life. End of story." But debate continued: Has the Cain Train just derailed over the issue of abortion?
What is Cain, a Catholic Democrat? "There's a simple term for people who feel that abortion is personally wrong, but that the government shouldn't do anything to prohibit it," says Leon H. Wolf in RedState: Pro-choice. In fact, Cain's position is indistinguishable from the "standard Catholic Democrat dodge" used by John Kerry, Mario Cuomo, and other "nominally Catholic" pro-choicers. I was considering Cain, "but this is a dealbreaker." If you believe life begins at conception, abortion is murder.
"Herman Cain: Pro-choice"
His libertarianism got the better of him: Cain's problem here is that he's fluent in "the language of libertarian businessmen," but not in "the patois of social conservatives," says David Weigel in Slate. He probably is pro-life, and as president would certainly appoint abortion-restricting judges. But Cain will have to walk back his "choice" talk. And since he can credibly claim to have been "'trapped' by CNN," if he flip-flops quickly enough, he can still "flip his way free."
"Countdown to Herman Cain 'clarifying' his abortion position"
Cain doesn't understand the abortion debate: This is why "straight-talkin', complicated-problem-solvin' politicians succeed only in movies," says Amy Sullivan in TIME. When it comes to abortion, Cain thinks political reporters are asking him for his personal views, not policy preferences. And personally, he thinks nobody should ever choose to have an abortion, even if raped. This "pro-choice position" (for he still allows for the presense of a choice) will hurt him with conservatives, but they should really be troubled by the fact that he can't handle a simple talking point "when he steers away from pizza and entrepreneurship."
"Herman Cain somehow misses 40 years of abortion debate"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why torture doesn't work: A definitive guide
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- You should be furious about Hollywood's gutless retreat on The Interview
- Hey, bosses: Stop giving bonuses to your employees
- Why the Sony hack changes everything
- Capitalism isn't a cure-all for Cuba
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- 10 outrageously pricey tax breaks that Congress just gave away
Subscribe to the Week