Frank Szabo doesn't want to resort to deadly force to stop abortions — but he will if left with no other choice.

The Republican candidate for sheriff in New Hampshire's Hillsborough County — its most populous county — said in a recent press release that, if elected, he would arrest anyone performing abortions in the county.

Speaking with CBS Boston, Szabo fortified his position, saying he would use deadly force to prevent abortions if necessary.

"Deadly force is the last thing law enforcement should be using, if a citizen's life is in danger they should be protected," Szabo said. "If there is no other choice, that's what's needed to protect the citizen."

Pressed, Szabo asked rhetorically why there was a difference "between someone who is 20 years old and their life is in danger and someone who is nine months in utero."

He later made similar comments to New Hampshire's News 9: "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."

His comments were immediately denounced by both state Democrats and his Republican rival next month's primary, incumbent James Hardy, who said Szabo "wants to substitute his opinions for enforcing the law."

After igniting a firestorm with his remarks, Szabo walked them back somewhat in a statement released to the press this morning.

"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," said Szabo in his statement. "In making comments yesterday, I let my passionate stance against abortion get the better of me."

He went on to say that there was no situation he could imagine were he would want to use deadly force: "In fact, I would use every possible peaceful and lawful tool at my disposal to execute the job of Hillsborough County Sheriff, and the people of the county should have confidence in that."

[H/T: Mediaite, screengrab via CBS Boston, video via ThinkProgress]