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Republican Presidential Candidates Discuss Abortion, Stem Cells as Part of First Debate

Ten Republican presidential candidates on Thursday in their first televised debate -- held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley , Calif. -- fielded questions about their views on abortion rights, stem cell research and other issues, the Washington Post reports.

The 90-minute debate included Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Sam Brownback (Kan.); former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani; former Virginia Gov. James Gilmore; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney; former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson; and Reps. Duncan Hunter (Calif.), Ron Paul (Texas) and Tom Tancredo (Colo.). The debate, which was sponsored by MSNBC and Politico.com, involved a "mixture" of questions from Chris Matthews of MSNBC and John Harris of Politico.com, as well as questions submitted online from viewers, the New York Times reports.

Abortion-Rights Comments

According to the Times, the candidates considered front-runners -- Romney, Giuliani and McCain -- differed on social issues, such as abortion rights and stem cell research. McCain, "alone among the top three contenders," has a "career-long" record of opposing abortion, the AP/Detroit Free Press reports.

Giuliani, who has said he supports abortion rights, gave "conflicting signals" on the issue, according to the Times. Giuliani said he would not be upset if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that barred state abortion bans, but later he endorsed abortion rights. "It would be O.K. to repeal" Roe, Giuliani said, adding, "Or it would be O.K. also if a strict constructionist judge viewed it as a precedent, and I think a judge has to make that decision." Giuliani also said that he supported public financing of abortion for poor women in New York state but added that "people can come to a different decision."

Romney discussed his shift from supporting abortion rights during his run for gov
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