Republicans Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann took veiled swipes at surging presidential rival Herman Cain

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Cain, who has struggled in the past week as his views come under more scrutiny, has tried to backtrack

Perry, Bachmann take veiled swipes at Cain in Iowa

John Whitesides

Reuters US Online Report Top News

Oct 22, 2011 22:59 EDT

DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) – Republicans Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann took veiled swipes at surging presidential rival Herman Cain on Saturday as six of the party’s White House hopefuls courted social conservatives at an Iowa forum.

Appearing separately before about 1,000 conservative activists, the Republican candidates all pledged to protect the unborn, defend traditional marriage, limit government and bring an end to the presidency of Democrat Obama.

But Cain, the former pizza executive, came under indirect fire for seeming to suggest earlier this week that while he opposed abortion, government should not be trying to tell a woman what to do about it.

“It is a liberal canard to say I am personally pro-life, but government should stay out of that decision,” Texas Governor Rick Perry told the Iowa forum, held in an exhibition hall at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

“If that is your view, you are not pro-life,” he said, without mentioning Cain by name. “You are pro having your cake and eating it too.”

Bachmann also criticized Cain’s abortion comments without naming him, saying she believed government must intervene to protect the unborn and she would support a constitutional amendment on the issue.

Bachmann, a representative from Minnesota, also said she would never consider negotiating the release of detainees at Guantanamo Bay — a direct rebuttal of Cain’s recent comment that he would consider trading them for a U.S. hostage.

Cain, who has struggled in the past week as his views come under more scrutiny, has tried to backtrack on both of those comments. At the forum he was direct when asked about his stance on abortion. “No abortions, no exceptions,” he said.

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