Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he was “taken aback” by cheers at the CNN/Tea Party debate Monday at in response to the hypothetical death of a man who did not have health care insurance.

“I was a bit taken aback by that myself,” Perry told NBC News after appearing at a breakfast fundraiser in Tampa. “We’re the party of life. We ought to be coming up with ways to save lives.”

He said his stance on life did not apply to “issues of justice” and the death penalty.

“But the Republican party ought to be about life and protecting, particularly, innocent life,” Perry added.

During NBC’s Republican presidential debate in early September, the audience applauded Perry’s execution record. Under the governor, Texas executed 234 death row inmates.

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