WASHINGTON - Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani says he feels "very, very passionate" about abortion and opposes picking Supreme Court nominees based on their view of the ruling that legalized abortion.

"My view is that there shouldn't be a litmus test on Roe against Wade," the former New York City mayor said. "I'm going to select strict constructionist judges. They're free to take a look at Roe against Wade, take a look at the limitations, but I believe I should leave it to them to decide that."

Giuliani repeatedly has defended his positions, which have been criticized as contradictory, on late-term abortion, public funding for abortions and the Roe v. Wade decision.

"I'm very, very passionate about the issue of abortion," he said. "I oppose it. That's a principle I've held forever, and I'll hold it forever. That's not going to change. But I also believe that in a society like ours, where people have very, very different consciences about this, it's best to respect each others' differences and allow for choice."

For GOP conservatives who could determine the outcome in the primaries, opposition to abortion has been a litmus test. Giuliani's support for abortion rights has drawn criticism from some in the party.

One presidential rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, has drawn complaints for his switch from supporting abortion rights to opposing the procedure. Another GOP rival, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, has said that an abortion-rights Republican would have trouble winning the nomination.

Giuliani's interview on "Fox News Sunday" was broadcast yesterday.

In Raleigh, N.C., yesterday, Elizabeth Edwards urged Meredith College graduates to live deliberately, saying that they will never know when they might, like her, have to face their own mortality.

Edwards, wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, learned about two months ago that her cancer had returned in an incurable form. Her cancer is being treated while her husband's campaign continues.

Before the diagnosis, Edwards said she had a different outlook."I was content to let each day play out in whatever way it would. I had goals and activities, but I don't think I let them define me," she said.

The medical diagnosis gave Edwards the chance to think about "the story" she wanted to leave behind, she told the graduates.

"You're young. Maybe there'll be time for a do-over if you don't get it right the first time, but there are no guarantees. There will come a time, as it might have come for me, when there is no time left for do-overs."

Edwards, who lives in Chapel Hill, agreed to give the commencement address even before her husband had declared his candidacy for the White House. *