CNN released a poll last month where 61 percent of Republican respondents believed abortion should be legal in "certain" cases and 11 percent believed it should be always legal, while only 27 percent opposed its legalization in all cases. Don Lemon cited this poll and touted that an overwhelming number of Republicans now support the legalization of abortion "under all or certain circumstances."
"So Will, 72 percent, 72 percent of voting Republicans think abortion should be legal under all or certain circumstances," Lemon emphasized to conservative guest Will Cain of TheBlaze.com. "So how does such a minority of Republicans come to play such an influential role in choosing the GOP nominee?"
However, Lemon didn't report the next poll question, which was asked only of those who believe abortion should be sometimes legal. The poll asked if respondents believed abortion should be legal "in most" cases or "only a few" cases.
Of the 61 percent of Republicans who supported legalization of abortion in "certain" cases, 53 percent said it should be legal only "in a few" cases, while just 8 percent supported its legalization "in most circumstances."
So Lemon could just as easily have reported that 80 percent of Republicans polled believe abortion should not be legal in all or most cases.
A transcript of the segment, which aired on October 21 at 1:47 p.m. EDT, is as follows:
DON LEMON: Alright, welcome back everyone. Before the break we looked at some CNN polling that showed 83 percent of Democrats think that abortion should be legal under all or certain circumstances, and I asked you to guess how many Republicans feel the same way.
What did you guess? 20, 30, maybe 40 percent? You need to go a lot higher. 72 percent of voting Republicans think abortion should be legal under all or certain circumstances. Only 27 percent think abortion should be illegal no matter what. So that polling leads to all sorts of "Fair Game" questions that I'm going to ask my next two guests, Democratic strategist Maria Cardona and CNN contributor Will Cain.
So Will, 72 percent, 72 percent of voting Republicans think abortion should be legal under all or certain circumstances. You've heard that. So how does such a minority of Republicans come to play such an influential role in choosing the GOP nominee?
WILL CAIN, columnist for TheBlaze.com: I have to be honest, I find that poll pretty shocking, Don. This is a – I guess the answer to that is because it's such an impassioned issue. For those that believe that life begins at conception, those that are pro-life, it is a almost litmus test issue. It's the top of your list, it's one of the biggest things you choose a candidate on, so you're going to make it a big part of your platform.
LEMON: Yeah. Maria, let's talk about the newest influence in the Republican Party, the Tea Party. Does that movement make it even harder for abortion rights supporters in the GOP to be heard?
MARIA CARDONA, Democratic strategist: Yes, I do think it definitely has a lot to do with the difficulty in any Republican, really, voicing their support for the pro-choice position. I also think that the – the pro-life lobby has always been incredibly important in D.C. and in national politics, and they have always pushed candidates, to use a point that Will Cain made, to use it as a litmus. And if they don't pass that litmus they make it very hard for that candidate to get any support from the national level and from fund raising, which is always important.
LEMON: Alright, case-in-point. So let's go to the latest GOP candidate to face the wrath of abortion opponents. Talking about Herman Cain. Let me read you a statement that he released. He says "I am 100 percent pro-life, end of story. I will appoint judges who know that the Constitution contains no right to take the life of unborn children. I will oppose government funding of abortion. I will veto funds for Planned Parenthood."
Now, why did Cain feel the need to release that statement? Well, because he has been coming across as someone who is an abortion rights supporter. I want you to take a listen to Cain on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight.
PIERS MORGAN, host, CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight: If one of your female children, grandchildren, was raped, you would honestly want her to bring up that baby as her own.
HERMAN CAIN, GOP presidential candidate: You're mixing two things here, Piers.
CAIN: Okay. You're mixing two things here.
MORGAN: But that's what it comes down to.
CAIN: No, it comes down to it's not the government's role, or anybody else's role, to make that decision. It ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make.
(End Video Clip)
LEMON: Okay, so Cain personally doesn't believe in abortion, but he thinks that it's noone's business what another family decides. Isn't that what abortion rights people have been saying all along here, Maria?
CARDONA: Absolutely. I heard that, and I thought I was listening to a Democrat, Don. I was like, Oh my god, he's come out as a Democrat. Because that is exactly what Democrats believe. The pro-right folks, and I'm sorry, the pro-choice folks, most of them Democrats obviously, they never want abortions. They never are wanting for there to be more abortions. We have always supported a woman's right to choose. And the words that Cain just used are exactly the words that we all use in terms of the reason why it should be a woman's right to choose, what happens in her own body. And what's interesting here, Don, is that the Tea Party, the Tea Party ideology is always get government out of the way.
CARDONA: So shouldn't they all be pro-choice as well?
LEMON: So Will, listen. You know, this is the second, maybe third time in a couple of days, a couple of weeks that he has said, he has responded saying I didn't understand the question or I didn't get the ques – the answer quite right. He did it when he talked about Guantanamo Bay and whether or not he would negotiate with terrorists. He's done it with this. Can – can he continue to do this and do you think he meant what he said? Or did he just not understand the question?
CAIN: Herman Cain's nonsense is only matched by my friend Maria's nonsense she was just saying. Let me tell you something. I do not want to have an abortion debate in two minutes on national television. This is a nuanced conversation that's very important. The issue – and we keep saying it's a women's right to choose – we don't have the right to choose to punch each other in the face. We don't have the right to murder – to choose to murder each other. The question – the only question that matters in this debate is when life begins. That's it. We shouldn't have another conversation until you answer that.
As for Herman Cain, I have no idea what he's talking about, because Herman Cain has no idea what he's talking about. There is – this does not –
CARDONA: Until –
CAIN: This does not just revolve around abortion, it's whether or not he wants an electrified fence, it's about whether or not it's a joke or he doesn't want to offend somebody. It's about whether or not he'd trade troops from Guantranamo – Guantanamo Bay for a captured troop with al Qaeda. He walks back statements, he says things I don't know what he's talking about, because he doesn't.
CARDONA: And Will's argument is exactly the hypocrisy that all of the Tea Party and the Republicans are actually suffering from. Either you want an activist government or you don't. Republicans always say smaller government, smaller government, let's get rid of government. Government should not be involved in –
CAIN: No, you're missing my point there, Maria.
LEMON: Hang on, hang on. Let's – but Maria, it does – to the question that I gave Will, that I asked Will. It sort of plays into the whole thing about him having a problem articulating his positions. Do you believe that he has a problem articulating his positions when he has to come back and say I didn't understand the question, or let me clarify that.
CARDONA: Yes, there's no question about that, Don. And to me, and it underscores yet again that this is not somebody who is ready for prime time. This is the second or third time he has had to walk back his positions, because he knows that he's in trouble with a conservative base whom he can't get elected without them. And it also shows me that this is the beginning of the wilting of a candidate under the national spotlight, somebody who was never ready to be in this to win this.
LEMON: Alright, Maria and Will – that's going to have to be the last word.