GOP rivals pass contraception debate, hit Obama

By the Associated Press | February 22, 2012 | 9:15 PM EST

MESA, Ariz. (AP) — The Republican presidential candidates are trying to avoid a debate on contraception and instead are looking to keep the focus of their criticism on President Barack Obama.

CNN anchor John King asked the candidates to address their views of contraception, a subject that has risen as a point of contention in the GOP field. The audience at Wednesday's debate booed and the candidates tried to dodge discussion of views that could prove problematic come the general election.

Newt Gingrich says he prefers to discuss Obama's support for "infanticide," and Mitt Romney says Obama is attacking "religious tolerance." Ron Paul, a physician, says immorality leads to the need for contraception, not the other way around.

Rick Santorum says he opposes contraception and says the nation needs stronger families, not birth control.