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McCain to GOP: Stop talking about abortion

Republican Sen. John McCain is urging his fellow Republicans to steer clear of discussing abortion.

Republican Sen. John McCain is urging his fellow Republicans to steer clear of discussing abortion.

The Arizona lawmaker said he was proud of his pro-life stance on Fox News Sunday but added, “As far as young women are concerned, absolutely, I don’t think anybody like me—I can state my position on abortion, but other than that, leave the issue alone when we are in the kind of economic situation, and frankly national security situation that we’re in.”

When asked if he meant the GOP should allow abortion rights, which could help the party among young and female voters, McCain said he was merely suggesting that Republicans take a more conciliatory approach.

“I would allow people to have those opinions…I’m proud of my pro-life position and if someone disagrees with me, I respect [their] views,” said McCain.

He also acknowledged that “the demographics are not on our side.”

According to exit polls, President Obama thumped Mitt Romney by double digits among women (55% to 43%) earlier this month--a significant factor, as women make up the majority of the electorate.

The issue of abortion hurt Republicans during this year’s election after Senate candidates Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana made controversial remarks about rape and abortion.

Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) weighed in on Monday's Hardball when asked if the GOP should keep a strong pro-life plank in its platform.

Lankford insisted that "Half of Americans are very pro life...I do think you keep it in, you continue the conversation but you do it in a way that's appropriate." He added he didn't think Republicans would nominate a pro-choice candidate in any case. "There is such a strong family value among Republicans. We look into the womb and we see two legs, two arms, two eyes, a nose, and a beating heart, unique DNA, and we say that’s a person," he said.

msnbc political analyst Joan Walsh of disagreed, pointing out the majority of Americans think abortion should be legal in some cases. The Republicans, she said "are on the course of demographic extinction," due to the loss in support among women, minorities and young voters.

Walsh said McCain, in his remarks about abortion,  seemed to be allowing himself some wiggle room.

While McCain "talks about being open to other views, it's not necessarily that [the GOP] won't continue to fight to make abortion illegal," she said.