Survey: Republicans Divided Over Best Pro-Life Candidate

WASHINGTON – Republicans lack consensus over which presidential candidate would be the best pick based on abortion issues, according to a recent survey.

The four leading candidates, for the most part, received ratings similar to one another on many of the 17 key issues brought up by a Gallup Poll released Friday. But surveyed Republicans were most divided when it came to the controversial issue of abortion.

Most Republicans (24 percent) had "no opinion" which GOP candidate would do the best job on the abortion issue. The second most popular reply was that former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson (23 percent) would do the best job, followed by Mitt Romney (20 percent), Rudy Giuliani (19 percent), and John McCain (15 percent).

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"The abortion issue has probably been the most controversial in the Republican primary campaign to this point," noted Gallup, which highlighted the recent pubic statement by conservative Christian leaders who said they would consider supporting a third-party candidate if the GOP selected pro-choice Giuliani as its nominee.

The Republican Party has long favored a pro-life opinion.

Besides the former New York mayor, other candidates have also been viewed with suspicion regarding their abortion stance.

Former Massachusetts governor Romney has been questioned on the sincerity of his pro-life commitment after it was revealed that he ran on pro-choice positions in past political campaigns. Meanwhile, actor and former senator Thompson has had to answer questions about his work as a lobbyist for a pro-choice interest group.

Other issues without a clear leader according to Gallup include healthcare, gay "marriage," reforming the way the government in Washington works, the situation in Iraq, relations with other countries, education, taxes and immigration.

And while Giuliani has a clear lead on seven of the 17 key issues polled – especially in the areas of crime, terrorism, race relations, and being able to inspired Americans – he is far from being the clear frontrunner as he is nearly equally rated on the other ten issues

Meanwhile, Arizona Sen. John McCain is perceived as the best pick for handling the duties of commander-in-chief of the military. McCain is the only one out of the four leading contenders to have served in the military. In addition, he has been known for his leadership on military issues during his over 20 years in the U.S. Senate.

"That the Republicans do not perceive any of the candidates as having an advantage on more than half of the issues tested in the poll adds further weight to the notion that the Republican nomination contest is likely to be a wide-open affair," concluded Gallup.

The Gallup Panel study was conducted Sept. 24-27 by telephone interviews with 409 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.

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