TRANSCRIPT: The Republican Debate

STEPHANOPOULOS: Our goal today is to get a real debate going among all of you, to find out where you stand on the issues, but also to figure out the real differences that separate you.

And in that spirit, here in Iowa you've already been going at each other, somewhat beneath the radar screen, on the issue of abortion.

Senator Brownback, your campaign has been making phone calls to Iowa voters about Mitt Romney, and I want to show it for our viewers. It's called an urgent action alert.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Mitt Romney is telling Iowans that he is firmly pro- life. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As late as 2005, Mitt Romney pledged to support and uphold pro- abortion policies and pass taxpayer funding of abortions in Massachusetts.

His wife, Ann, has contributed money to Planned Parenthood.

Mitt told the National Abortion Rights Action League that, "You need someone like me in Washington."

(END AUDIO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Brownback, do you stand by that attack?

BROWNBACK: I certainly do. There's one word that describes that ad, and it's "truthful." That's a truthful ad.

And that's what campaigns are about, too, George, is for as far as getting the truth out, expressing the differences between candidates.

These are good people that are up on this stage.

That's a truthful ad. I am pro-life. I think this is a core issue for our party. I think it's a big issue for our country. I'm pro-life and I'm whole life. I think that all life at all stages is sacred and it's beautiful. I think it's something we ought to fight for, it's what this party has stood for, it's what we should stand for.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Romney, everything in that ad true?

ROMNEY: Virtually nothing in that ad is true.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What's wrong with it?

ROMNEY: The single word I'd use would be "desperate" or perhaps "negative."

Frankly...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But before we move on, you said it's not true. We have it up on the screen. What is untrue?

ROMNEY: I am pro-life. That's the truth. And several years ago, when we faced the issue of cloning of embryos in our state, I wrote an op-ed piece in the Boston Globe and said I'm pro-life.

ROMNEY: And every action I've taken as governor of Massachusetts has been pro-life.

This is a very difficult decision. We're involved in the lives of two people: a mom and an unborn child. And yet I've come down on the side of saying I'm in favor of life.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But are any of the specific -- any of the specific charges there untrue?

ROMNEY: The Massachusetts Citizens for Life just several months ago brought me in and gave me an award for my public leadership on the basis of being pro-life.

So the best way you can learn about someone is not by asking their opponent, but ask them, "What do you believe, and what's your view?"

And I am pro-life. And virtually every part of that ad is inaccurate. I'm pro-life. My positions are pro-life. The idea that, for instance, I've been in favor of taxpayer funding of abortion; that's wrong. I oppose taxpayer funding of abortion.

In our state we passed a medical plan that reduces the number of people who received state funding for abortion.

So the ad is just completely wrong.

BROWNBACK: George, if I could, there's -- you can go up on YouTube and see the governor himself and speaking himself...

ROMNEY: Ah, that's the -- consider the source.

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