Mitt Romney put out mixed messages over the past two days on abortion, a key issue among social conservatives.

In an interview with the Des Moines Register, the Republican candidate for president said he did not plan to actively pursue legislation that would outlaw abortions.

"There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda," Romney told the paper's editorial board Tuesday. "One thing I would change, however, which would be done by executive order and not by legislation, is that I would reinstate the Mexico City policy, which is that foreign aid dollars from the United States would not be used to carry out abortion in other countries."

But Wednesday, campaigning in Ohio, he said: "I think I've said time and again that I'm a pro-life candidate and I'll be a pro-life president."

During and after the debate with President Barack Obama last week, Romney has shifted and softened his earlier statements on several issues, such as immigration, in moves apparently aimed at the center.

Some social conservatives have questioned how committed Romney is to opposing abortion, in part because as Massachusetts governor, he initially supported abortion rights. Now he would allow abortion in case of rape, incest and to save the mother's life. In recent years he has said he would appoint Supreme Court justices who would "hopefully" overturn Roe v. Wade, and that he would be "delighted" to sign a bill banning abortion.

Obama told ABC News that Romney's answer to the Des Moines newspaper was an example of his "hiding positions he's been campaigning on for a year and a half." Obama also harshly appraised his own performance in last week's first of three presidential debates.

"Governor Romney had a good night. I had a bad night. It's not the first time I've had a bad night," Obama said.

Romney was in Ohio seeking to build on his apparent bounce from the debate.

Both campaigns remain focused on the same nine states that have dominated the battle for most of this year, according to interviews with strategists on both sides.

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That leaves Romney with a very narrow path to victory, one that probably requires him to win large battlegrounds such as Florida, Virginia and Colorado along with Ohio.

Obama's advisers say they are committed to the handful of states they targeted months ago.