SIMI VALLEY, California To Sam Brownback, it would be "a glorious day," and to Tom Tancredo the "greatest day in this country's history." For Rudolph Giuliani, repeal of the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion "would be OK."
Republican presidential hopefuls, at their first debate on Thursday, were asked if repeal of the Roe v. Wade decision would be a good day for America.
"It would be OK to repeal," said Giuliani, New York's former mayor, contending with his record of support for abortion rights as he courts conservative Republicans.
"I think the court has to make that decision and then the country can deal with it. We're a federalist system of government and states can make their own decisions," said Giuliani, who leads Republicans in the polls.
Giuliani, a Roman Catholic, maintains he personally thinks abortion is wrong but believes it is ultimately a woman's choice, a position that goes against the grain of the social conservatives who carry big clout in the Republican primaries.
His lawyerly response contrasted sharply with some other candidates who jumped at the chance to burnish their anti-abortion credentials.
"After 40 million dead because we have aborted them in this country, I would say that that would be the greatest day in this country's history when that, in fact, is overturned," said Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado.
"It would be a glorious day of human liberty and freedom," said Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney seized the chance to explain his changed position on abortion.
"Well, I've always been personally pro-life, but for me, it was a great question about whether or not government should intrude in that decision," Romney said.
He said he changed his position after the debate in his state over cloning. "It's a "brave new world" mentality that Roe v. Wade has given us, and I changed my mind," he said.
(Writing by Vicki Allen in Washington, editing by Peter Cooney; World Desk Americas)