Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) - An influential social conservative group in Iowa has crossed off Republican presidential candidates Herman Cain and Ron Paul from consideration for its presidential endorsement.
Among other concerns, the group is not sure Cain is "knowledgeable or equipped" on foreign policy, and is worried about Paul's advocacy of states' rights regarding abortion and marriage.
Programming note: GOP presidential candidates face off at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday, November 22, in the CNN Republican National Security Debate in Washington, D.C.
The Family Leader has narrowed its consideration to four candidates: Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, according to a statement released Tuesday.
The dismissal of Cain and Paul comes just three days after both men attended a major event sponsored by the group, along with the four other candidates.
In its statement, the group said: "Regarding Mr. Cain, the board cited a narrative of questions versus clarity on the key issues of life, marriage, foreign policy, and presidential readiness."
The spokeswoman for The Family Leader explained further when contacted by CNN.
Cain previously "made a statement that the life issue should be decided by the states," Julie Summa said, referring to the issue of abortion rights.
The spokeswoman also explained its problems with Cain regarding foreign policy.
"That relates to the presidential readiness issue," Summa said. "There have been times that, we're not sure as an organization, that [Cain] is knowledgeable or equipped in that policy area."
The spokeswoman cited "past statements that [Cain] has made," though she did not want to specify those comments.
According to Cain's Iowa campaign chairman Steve Grubbs, Cain has consistently said that if federal legislators act on this issue, he will support those efforts. But if states act on it, "he will encourage those efforts."
"What matters to us is where Iowa voters stand on this issue. Herman Cain has consistently said that he is pro life. And he is the only non politician in the race," said Grubbs. "And in a year where Republicans are frustrated with the status quo, they're not going to listen to the family leader. They're going to vote for a candidate who's outside of the status quo. And that's Herman Cain."
Regarding Paul, The Family Leader also explained why he is no longer being considered for its endorsement.
"The stumbling block for the board regarding Representative Paul dealt primarily with "States' Rights" as it pertains to the sanctity of human life and God's design for marriage," the statement said.
Summa explained: "Dr. Paul believes that there should be no federal marriage amendment act - that that should be left up to the states."
"Similarly, he would not be an advocate of overturning Roe v. Wade. Because he believes that that should be decided at the state level," Summa added. "We are for limited government, just like Dr. Paul is. But we also believe that there are some key issues that require some oversight by the federal government."
Paul's campaign has responded.
"Dr. Paul is staunchly pro-life and pro-family," Paul spokesman Jesse Benton said in a statement. "And, the biggest threat to our families is our failing economy. Dr. Paul is the clear choice for pro-family voters because he is the only candidate with a plan to cut $1 trillion dollars of government spending, balance our budget and create jobs before our economy collapses, tearing families apart."
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