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Jindal, McDonnell defend Romney's abortion remarks

CHESTER, VA -- Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal came to Mitt Romney's defense today over remarks the Republican presidential nominee made Tuesday, saying he wouldn't seek new anti-abortion legislation as president.

"There's only one pro-life candidate running for president, and that's Governor Romney," Jindal told reporters. 

As both presidential candidates stump in Ohio, Mitt Romney made an apparent shift on abortion, which was pounced upon by President Obama's campaign. Meanwhile, the tug of war over Big Bird has ruffled feathers with the nonprofit behind Sesame Street. NBC's Peter Alexander reports.

Tuesday, in an interview with the Des Moines Register's editorial board, Romney said, "There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda." 

Jindal today went on to rebuff attacks from Democrats, including an Obama campaign conference call this morning pointing to Romney's past support for restrictions on access to abortion.

 "The reality is, its no surprise that President Obama would want to talk about anything but the economy," Jindal said. 

The remarks came after he and McDonnell visited a barbecue restaurant here in Chester, one of three stops today across a wide swath of eastern Virginia as the two men get out the vote for the Republican presidential ticket.

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McDonnell said that Romney was signaling that his presidential agenda "isn't focusing on social issues." 

"Having read those comments from Governor Romney," McDonnell said of the Register interview, "what he was saying is, his overwhelming priority is going to be creating jobs, getting the economy back on track."

Both McDonnell and Jindal are outspoken on social issues and are fervently anti-abortion -- though when asked today they would not say they were disturbed by Romney's remarks. 

Republicans are likely hoping a strong debate performance by vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan in Thursday's debate against Vice President Joe Biden will shift the conversation.

Speaking to supporters earlier, Jindal -- once a much-speculated about contender for veep himself -- said he didn't want raise expectations for Ryan, with whom he earlier served in Congress.

But Jindal spoke highly of Ryan's chances.  "I don't think its going to be a fair fight," he said.

Pointing to sections of the interview in which Romney cites his support for cutting funding to countries promoting abortion, McDonnell said the "no legislation" remarks are being taken out of context. 

"Governor Romney's pro-life.  Pro-life bills that get to his desk, there's no question in my mind he will sign." McDonnell said.  

"He's pro-life, Obama's pro-choice, and now let's talk about the economy."