By Elise Viebeck - 10/10/12 08:47 PM EDT
Mitt Romney sought to reassure anti-abortion-rights groups that he is on their side on Wednesday as he vowed to be a "pro-life president" if elected.
"I'm a pro-life candidate. I'll be a pro-life president," Romney said Wednesday during a campaign appearance in Ohio.
Romney also promised to end public health funding for Planned Parenthood — a group conservatives oppose because it provides abortions — and to bar U.S. foreign aid from funding the procedures.
Romney's forceful comments followed an earlier interview in which Romney suggested he would not seek to limit abortion rights through legislation.
In an interview with the Des Moines Register on Tuesday, Romney said "there is no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda."
As Romney sought to reassure the right, the Obama campaign — trying to hang on to female voters, who in recent polls seemed to be moving to Romney's column — lashed out at the Republican on abortion.
"He's trying to cynically and dishonestly hide his real positions," said Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter, "but there's no hiding when you're president."
Recent national polls have put Romney ahead of Obama since last week's debate, and much of the turnaround has come from female voters. A Pew Research poll earlier this week found Romney gaining 18 points on Obama among women.
Even before Romney's comments in Ohio, prominent anti-abortion-rights voices had sought to offer assurances about the Republican to groups opposed to abortion rights.
Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.), a top surrogate for Romney, said the former Massachusetts governor is "pro-life and deeply committed to the issue."
"I've looked him in the eye, discussed this issue, and I absolutely believe in my heart and know that he is personally committed to a pro-life agenda as president," Christie said on the conservative "Laura Ingraham Show."
Leaders from the National Right to Life Committee, the Family Research Council and the Susan B. Anthony List — all groups that oppose abortion rights — said the same.