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SBA List president explains why candidates must commit to ‘pro-life’ appointments, why Huntsman is ‘vague’ on abortion

On the same day GOP presidential contender Jon Huntsman’s campaign manager resigned, the leader of the anti-abortion rights policy group the Susan B. Anthony List said the SBA List is not supporting the candidate in his current campaign stage because he did not sign the group’s abortion-centric presidential pledge.

SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser went on CNN’s In the Arena on Thursday and said there was “vagueness” when it comes to the abortion-rights positions of Huntsman, as well as Mitt Romney and Herman Cain, who both also refused to sign SBA’s pledge.

“We don’t know what we don’t know,” Dannenfelser said in response to the host’s insistence that all three candidates had stated their commitment to “pro-life” agendas.

Despite his refusal to sign pledges in general, Huntsman was the first presidential hopeful to respond to a presidential “Family 2012″ challenge from the South Carolina Focus on the Family affiliate Palmetto Family Council, saying in a letter that he would make restricting abortion rights a prominent part of his campaign.

GOP presidential hopefuls Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Newt Gingrich, Rep. Ron Paul (Texas), Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum and Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.) have attached their names to a promise to nominate federal judges that do not “legislate from the bench” as the SBA List puts it; to appoint only “pro-life” cabinet members, particularly those who would head the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Justice and the Department of Health & Human Services; to advance “pro-life” legislation and defund Planned Parenthood; and to sign into federal law the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.”

Asked if the pledge “marginalizes this as a wedge issue when so many people are focused on jobs and the economy,” Dannenfelser responded:

[W]hat this does is to put to rest to the extent that it needs to be where each of the Republican candidates, and any candidate, where they sit in terms of the pro-life position. Once we know — and the voters deserve to know what their position is — then it can be weaved into the context of all the other issues that America is talking about right now. When it is a problem is when there is vagueness.

During the brief interview, Dannenfelser also explained the SBA List’s legislative strategy behind the wording of the pledge, specifically in the insistence that candidates commit to appointing people with anti-abortion rights views to specific cabinet positions:

What anybody who is a pro-life president will do is advance pro-life legislation. Once that legislation is passed and signed into law, an attorney general, who is a team member’s job will be to defend that once it has been enjoined, which almost all of it will surely be enjoined by pro-choice activists and it is an attorney general’s job also to vet judges. And abortion comes as a central subject of conversation in almost every federal judge and Supreme Court judge nomination process, so an attorney general is vital in pursuing the pro-life agenda.

Watch the interview:

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