(CNN) – In a presidential race thus far centered on the economy, nearly half of the 2012 GOP field took a break Friday to turn the election's spotlight on abortion.
Five candidates appeared–in person or via Skype–at the National Right to Life convention in Jacksonville, Fla., where they tapped into a social conservative base that's largely been sidelined since the tea party movement shifted the GOP's focus to fiscal issues.
All the candidates agreed life begins at conception and punctuated their point by citing the Declaration of Independence, which states all men "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
Several speeches were also laced with faith-based remarks. Herman Cain, former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, warned the country was in a "moral crisis" and said an increasingly secular culture was to blame for the legalization of abortion.
"As believers, most of us, we've got to fight back strongly with our voices and our votes," Cain said.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum underscored abortion as a rights issue, saying the government was ignoring the rights of the unborn and used the opportunity to tie in "Obamacare" as evidence the president was "fixated on accumulating power in DC."
Rep. Ron Paul from Texas, a former obstetrician who says he's delivered more than 4,000 babies, said he would introduce legislation called "We the People Act," which would shift abortion laws from the federal level to the states.
"We could prevent millions of abortions by allowing states to legislate," Paul said, via Skype.
The libertarian-leaning congressman said the issue of life and abortion is "probably the most important issue of our age" and that "liberty is secondary to life."
While the previous three candidates delivered sermon-like speeches with emotional rhetoric, Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty kept their messages short and on point about the election.
Bachmann, who has five children and fostered 23 others, tried to emphasize she was the candidate with the strongest record fighting abortion.
"What you want in a president is someone who is unquestionably 100 percent pro-life," Bachmann said, adding a line she has repeated throughout her campaign: "I need your help to seek the office of the presidency to make Obama a one term president."
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty had the shortest speech of all the candidates. He cited an article from National Review Online, a conservative news outlet, which described Pawlenty as the most pro-life candidate in the current GOP presidential field.
"If we're going to have a new and better direction for America, we're going to need a new and better president," Pawlenty said.
Interestingly, none of the candidates referred to a controversial move earlier in the week by former Govs. Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, both of whom passed on signing a pledge against federal funding for abortion services drawn up by the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life organization.
- CNN Political Coverage Manager Steve Brusk contributed to this report.
Wasn't there a poll that said the majority of citizens wanted lawmakers to focus on jobs and the economy and not social issues? There go the Republicans again shooting themselves in the foot! I love it! LOL
So let me see if I get this. The GOP/Tea party wants the government to stay out of our lives but it is OK for the government to intrude on this issue. Also, this seems like a women's issue. Whay are all of these men so adamant about this issue, and if human life is so sacred, why not devote the same passion to the poor, minorities, or imigrants?
I thought all these folks believed in freedom?
The "freedom" they seek is the right to make everyone else conform to their theology and behave only in ways that they approve of.
You want to fight abortion? Make birth control cheap and easily accessible and teach people how to use it.
ATTENTION PRO-LIFERS: STOP PUSHING YOUR RELIGIOUS VIEWS ON ME!!!! Abortion is a MEDICAL PROCEDURE. GET OVER IT! Rowe v. Wade will never be overturned.
Some of these pro-lifers should have been aborted. Man I wish your mothers would have swallowed you.
And what about the 2010 mantra: "jobs, jobs, jobs", Same old ideological gargabe from a party lacking any ideas about things that matter. I can not wait until Boehner has to give up his gavel after 2012.
GOP Tea Party is campaigning on less govt. but they want more US GOVT intrusion into our personal lives!!!......taking our liberties away and denying Americans our indivdual freedoms!!!!
The GOP Tea Party want to force YOU to have that baby...no abortion PERIOD! Even if you got pregnant from incest or you were gang raped, it doesnt matter to the republican GOP!
Vote for the GOP at your own peril!!! – Less Govt in GOP pockets, but More Govt in Women's Bodies!!!!
Having recently had a child, it was amazing when at 8 weeks I saw a little heart beating on an ultrasound screen. Seeing that, there was something other than my wife alive in her belly, a little human baby who has brought us great joy. I think too often in the country, abortion is used as an after form of birth control. I am pro-choice if that choice is birth control or not, but if a life is created by poor decisions, or because one didn't plan, or wasn't responsible, that does not give them the right to stop that little heart from beating. In my book, that is murder.
"We could prevent millions of abortions by allowing states to legislate,"
LOL. Let's just translate the bottom line here: ""We could prevent millions of abortions by abandoning the Constitution."
What is it with these pro-lifers? You're so against abortion yet you're quick to send our kids off into senseless wars to get killed. How about you send your children off to war to go fight and die and stop worrying about the RIGHTS of others.
"So let me see if I get this. The GOP/Tea party wants the government to stay out of our lives"
No no no. The Teatrolls want the gov't to stay out of THEIR lives. OUR lives? Not so much.
most people I know that favor abortion do so to keep it legal, not because they don't care for human life. If a woman really wants to have an abortion and it is made illegal she will find a way to do it and we are talking very dangerously. Plus a lot of these so-called pro life folks want the woman to carry a child full term even if it was due to a rape or even may endanger the life of the mother. I would NEVER be in favor of abortion as a form of birth control, but the pro life people want you to think that is all an abortion is. So much for the GOP working on jobs. God forbid one of these people have a love one that becomes pregnant due to a violent crime......wonder if they would force her to carry it full term then?
So the party of NO GOVERNMENT....want the government to tell women what they can do with their bodies....just like the Taliban...
I wish the GOP would focus on JOBS and not some woman's uterus!
Besides, isn't the GOP the "pro-life" party, that wants to take formula out of the mouths of poor infants, by cutting WIC because it "adds to the deficit"?
Republican concern for the health a fetus-100%, Republican concern for the health of the newly-born-0%!
GOP, Keep you politics out of my uterus and I'll do the same for you.
Democrats want to keep the worst of the worst crimnals alive in jails forever by opposing the death penalty, yet sentence innocent children to death at the hands of doctors sworn to protect life. Talk about insanity.
Killing millions of babies as a form of birth control is horrendous. Birth control is widely available and very effective. Women who do not use it should NOT be allowed to simply murder the child in the womb because of their ignorance or laziness.
Talking about this is important and walking away from the country's deficit crisis is is OK.
Republicans ... your priotities are screwed up and your values are not mine.
Please stop telling me what to do with MY body and I will believe you when you say that you are FOR SMALLER GOVERNMENT.
just an fyi.... I have never had nor will ever have an abortion but that this MY CHOICE!
"Women who do not use it should NOT be allowed to simply murder the child in the womb because of their ignorance or laziness."
And what about women/girls who are raped or are incest survivors? Or the mother of several living children who will die if she tries to carry her pregnancy to term?
Regarding birth control being widely available, I'm assuming you are against funding Planned Parenthood, which offers these kinds of services at affordable rates. BTW, check out Planned Parenthood's Web site and be sure to read all the information they provide about their services for women to ensure they have safe and healthy pregnancies – along with the support they provide to new mothers and families.
"Birth control is widely available and very effective. Women who do not use it should NOT be allowed to simply murder the child in the womb because of their ignorance or laziness."
Is that why the GOP is making such a play to destroy Planned Parenthood? Methinks you shouldn't be opinting fingers at anyone and calling them ignorant or lazy. You come here daily and make substanceless, imbecilic comments that evidence your own laziness in simply accepting whatever your partisan masters tell you to believe and regurgitate instead of going out and informing yourself with the facts and reality of the issues you try desperately to score points on.
"Besides, isn't the GOP the "pro-life" party, that wants to take formula out of the mouths of poor infants, by cutting WIC because it "adds to the deficit"?"
Yep, they are one and the same. They are also the a-holes who don't want to provide disaster relief to Americans without offsetting with cuts to programs they don't like.
But God forbid, we should raise taxes on the wealthiest among us! We just have to stop forgetting that they are worth more ...
wedge issue... move on...
typical..avoid the real issues. they have no ideas for fixing the economy and creating jobs so they move people's attention elsewhere.