Mitch Daniels Furthers Truce, Abortion Shouldn’t “Get in the Way”

State   Steven Ertelt   Dec 10, 2010   |   2:57PM    Washington, DC

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels upset pro-life advocates earlier this year when he called for a “truce” on social issues including abortion. Now, he may have gotten himself in more hot water.

He told 6News in Indianapolis that conservatives in the state legislature can move forward with pro-life legislation so long as it doesn’t distract from the economic and education-related legislation he prefers to push.

“As long as it doesn’t get in the way of the really crucial (objectives) — keeping Indiana in the black, improving our economy and bringing big reform to things like education. As long as it doesn’t get in the way of that, there’s plenty of time and capacity,” Daniels said.

Daniels also told 6News that his call for a truce was not aimed at the Indiana state legislature, but Congress.

“I was answering questions about the nation’s situation, which I think is very grave in terms of our economic and financial future. I said the priorities ought to be there,” Daniels added.

The comments follow a letter distributed by Sen. Greg Walker and Rep. Wes Culver to fellow Republican state legislators urging them to support a package of five bills that would include one banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy because unborn children can feel intense pain.

“We believe that with 150 legislators, we can give adequate attention to the many important issues our constituents feel are important,” the letter, which doesn’t mention Daniels, says.

Walker told a reported for the television station that there’s no reason social and fiscal issues can’t be pursued at the same time.

“I can focus on all those things and still change the oil in my car, too,” Walker said. “I mean, there’s other things to be taken care of.”

Whether the comments from Daniels will help pro-life advocates and social conservatives understand his call for a truce is something only time will tell. But the comments appear to continue to relegate social issues like abortion to the back burner — making the potential presidential candidate appear to believe pro-life concerns are like the little children who get relegated to the “kids table” at Christmas dinner while the adults talk about more important issues while they dine together.

In his comments about a truce, Indiana Governor Daniels replied, “I don’t know,” when asked if he would issue the executive order every pro-life president has done by instituting the Mexico City Policy.

He eventually walked back those comments and told reporter Michael Gerson he would sign the Mexico City Policy but he is sticking to his controversial comments calling for a “truce” on abortion.

“I would reinstate the Mexico City policy,” Daniels said, adding that promoting abortion with money meant for family planning is one of “a thousand things we shouldn’t be spending money on.”

The Daniels truce drew condemnation from potential presidential opponents Tim Pawlenty, Mike Pence and Mike Huckabee.

Representatives of several pro-life groups immediately responded to Daniels’ truce comments earlier this year.

Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council said Daniels’ comments “raise serious questions about his level of commitment to fundamental issues like life — leading many of us to wonder if he has the ability to lead a unified conservative movement.”

Calling the remarks a “surprising departure from his pro-family record,” Perkins said it was “astonishing” to see that “not only is he noncommittal about his role as a pro-life leader, but the Governor wouldn’t even agree to a modest step like banning taxpayer-funded promotion of abortion overseas-which President Bush did on his first day in office with 65% of the country’s support.”

“These aren’t fringe issues that stretch moderate America. They’re mainstream ideals that an overwhelming majority of the nation espouses,” he said.

Also, several pro-life groups, including LifeNews.com, released a joint statement condemning the truce.