A sheriff candidate in New Hampshire apologized Thursday for saying he would "absolutely" do whatever it takes to stop abortions -- including using deadly force.
Frank Szabo, a Republican candidate for Hillsborough County Sheriff, prompted calls for him to drop out of the race after his comments Wednesday, WMUR-TV reported. It started when he issued a press release vowing if elected to arrest anyone performing an abortion, even if their actions were legal under state law. Szabo then took it a step further to say he wouldn't rule out deadly force to stop one from happening in his jurisdiction.
"Well, I would hope that it wouldn't come to that, as with any situation where someone is in danger, but again, specifically talking about elective abortions and late-term abortions, that is an act that needs to be stopped," Szabo told WMUR.
He told WBZ-TV, "Deadly force is the last thing that law enforcement should be using, if a citizen’s life is in danger they need to be protected....If there's no other choice, that’s what’s needed to protect the citizen.”
Fellow Republicans criticized Szabo for his remarks, including New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O'Brien, who said Szabo's comments "make it clear that he does not understand the constitutional role of sheriff in New Hampshire."
"No elected official is given the latitude to take the law into his or her own hands and decide he or she knows better than the Legislature and governor what should be enforceable laws," O'Brien said in a statement. "It is our hope that Mr. Szabo will withdraw from this race and think long and hard about grounding himself in constitutional law and principles before considering political office in the future."
On Thursday, Szabo apologized for his comments, saying he let his "passionate stance against abortion" get the better of him.
“I want to be clear to the people of New Hampshire that I made several comments about the use of deadly force against abortion doctors that I regret, that I apologize for and that I fully retract,” Szabo said in a statement, according to WMUR. "In making comments yesterday, I let my passionate stance against abortion get the better of me."
Szabo posted a similar apology on his Facebook page, writing, "Never in my wildest nightmare would I advocate violence, especially the initiation of deadly force. My supporters know that I am a man of peace. Yesterday’s interview was poor judgment on my part."
Abortion has been a particularly hot button campaign issue in recent days, prompted by Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin's comments about "legitimate rape."