DES MOINES, Iowa --Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain told evangelicals gathered at Iowa's Faith and Freedom Coalition he wants to make abortion illegal in America.
"I believe that abortion should be clearly stated and illegal across this country," the former Godfather Pizza CEO said.
Cain's abortion positioning follows recent criticism from his rivals over some controversial comments he made over abortion.
His stance follows an appearance last week on CNN where Cain said that while he is personally 100 percent pro-life, the government shouldn't weigh in on the issue of abortion in cases of rape and incest.
"What I'm saying is it ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make -- not me as president, not some politician, not a bureaucrat. It gets down to that family," he told CNN.
GOP Rivals Pounce
Cain's abortion comments have drawn criticism from his GOP rivals.
"I was an offensive coordinator on the life issue," former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said.
Santorum cited several bills he sponsored and voted for during the Clinton administration.
"I was trying to move the ball down the field," he said.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry suggested Cain was trying "have his cake and eat it, too."
"It is a liberal canard to say, 'I am personally pro-life, but government should stay out of that decision,'" Perry said. "If that is your view, you are not pro-life."
Rep. Michele Bachmann told CBN News she wasn't sold on Cain's pro-life argument either.
"You can't say that on an interview and then switch on a dime and then switch two days later because it's not working politically," she said.
A Pro-Life Amendment?
In an exclusive interview with CBN News, Cain tried to explain what he meant.
"The tape that you are referring to, I said specifically, 'I am pro-life, from conception, no abortions, no exceptions,"' he noted.
"But they only focus on a later part of it where they were trying to pigeonhole me with a specific situation," he said. "So, the lesson learned is beware of being pigeonholed because you know they can pull it, and take it out of context."
Cain told CBN News he supports a pro-life amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
"If we can get the necessary support and it comes to my desk, I'll sign it," he vowed. "That's all I can do. I will sign it."
Cain also said he will use the power of the presidency to push pro-life issues.
"I believe that the office of the presidency and the bully pulpit should be used for that because I happen to believe that we have many instances where if you appeal to people's hearts, you can change their minds," he told CBN News.
Instead of criticizing Cain, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is rising in the polls, gave a realistic picture of the challenge Cain faces.
"He's very likable, and right now, I think frankly, he may be psychologically the frontrunner, even past Romney at the moment," Gingrich said. "But what that does, is it suddenly changes what the game is."
"The game isn't, 'Gee, you're interesting.' The game is 'Wow, you could be president,'" he explained. "Well, the yardstick is a lot tougher for 'You could be president.'"
All the candidates have one goal in mind: Win the all-important evangelical support in the state that votes first. Voters are still mulling over their options.
"I've been kind of leaning for Perry," one Iowa resident said. "But this is the first time I've heard Herman Cain speak, and I did get motivated about him. But I haven't made up my mind yet."
"They all agree with everything I say, so it's very difficult for me to make a choice at this time," another resident said. "I don't have a clear real picture."
"It takes a while to sort it all out," another Iowa resident said. "I think this is part of a process. It's important for people to see what's on the hearts of these candidates. Maybe we'll get it right this time."
Candidates and Faith
Sundays in Iowa during campaign season mean candidates head to the pulpit.
Bachmann, who spoke at Calvary Bible Church, stayed away from politics, telling the congregation instead what happened after she accepted Jesus at the age of 16.
"We are a new creation when we come to Christ," she said. "That's what I felt, so I said to the Lord, 'I don't know what has happened, but I do know this: I will radically (give) my life to you, Lord.'"
Speaking to church members is all part of the quest to capture hearts on the way to what these candidates hope will be the GOP nomination.