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Giuliani plans to outline views on abortion rights

Story Highlights

• GOP presidential hopeful to state position before next week's GOP debate
• Ex-New York mayor criticized for answer about views during earlier GOP debate
• Giuliani's abortion view at odds with social conservatives, a key GOP voting bloc
By Claire Brinberg
CNN Washington Bureau
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani will fully outline his position on abortion rights before next week's GOP debate in South Carolina, Giuliani advisers told CNN on Thursday.

The former New York City mayor's remarks will reassert his personal opposition to abortion, but also emphasize his support for a woman's right to choose whether or not to terminate a pregnancy, the advisers said.

Giuliani has come under fire for fumbling an answer he gave on this controversial issue during last week's Republican debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Los Angeles, California.

One adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to CNN, acknowledged that Giuliani was subject to sharp criticism for his handling of the question at the debate, but noted that the campaign is confident that when given more time, Giuliani will be able to fully explain his position. (Full Story)

"Because of the spinout from the first debate, we're going to say 'this is where we're at' and that's that," said the adviser, who added this will not be an "abortion speech" and Giuliani "is not going to be the abortion candidate." (Watch how abortion politics have influenced the GOP presidential race Video)

The former mayor addressed the subject Wednesday during a campaign stop in Huntsville, Alabama. There is a chance he will discuss it again at an event Friday in Houston, Texas.

"I oppose abortion as a matter of morality, of personal morality, would advise a person, if they asked for my advice, not to have an abortion and give them all the support they needed to make another choice," Giuliani said at the Huntsville event. "And I would hope they would have the information available to make that choice. (Watch Giuliani explain his views on abortion Video)

"I also believe that ultimately, I have to respect the fact that other people disagree with that," he added.

Giuliani is also expected to say abortions decreased and adoptions increased during his tenure as mayor, an adviser said.

Details of Giuliani's plan were first reported in the Thursday edition of The New York Times newspaper.

Giuliani at odds with social conservatives

Giuliani's support for a woman's right to have an abortion puts him at odds with many social conservatives and is viewed as a major hurdle in his quest for the GOP presidential nomination. But a Giuliani adviser noted the campaign will continue to focus on Giuliani's strengths, which they believe include the war on terrorism and homeland security.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released this week shows terrorism is the top issue on the minds of Republicans as they look ahead to the 2008 election. Abortion ranked seventh on the list of 17 issues, with 35 percent of Republicans nationwide saying that issue is extremely important to their vote.

Giuliani may hope that terrorism is also the number one issue in the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. (Full story)

In April, shortly after New Jersey announced it was scheduling its presidential primary on February 5, Giuliani told CNN he thought it was great news for him. He sounded equally optimistic about his chances in New York, California and Florida.

The first three states will hold primaries on the first Tuesday in February; Florida just moved its primary up to January 29.

But the Giuliani campaign said optimism about these states should not be misinterpreted that the former mayor will not be focusing his attention on the early voting states as well.

"We are fully committed to competing in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina," said Maria Comella, Giuliani's spokeswoman.

"As the mayor continues to travel to these states and meet and talk to these voters, we are increasingly encouraged by their response to Mayor Giuliani's proven record and results and the mayor's optimistic vision."

CNN's Mary Snow, Dana Bash and Keating Holland contributed to this report.

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Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been criticized for his response to a question about his views on abortion during last week's GOP debate.

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