Mitch Daniels Has No Regrets on Abortion, Social Issues Truce

State   Steven Ertelt   Dec 27, 2010   |   4:31PM    Indianapolis, IN

Indiana governor and potential 2012 presidential candidate Mitch Daniels says he has not changed his position on the social issues truce he advocated this summer that drew a sharp rebuke from pro-life advocates.

Daniels, himself a potential candidate to take on pro-abortion President Barack Obama next election, told the Weekly Standard the next president “would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues.”

“We’re going to just have to agree to get along for a little while,” he said in July.

In a new interview with the Indianapolis Star newspaper, Daniels said “No” when asked, “You haven’t changed your mind that that’s the right course?”

He admitted he received “some” criticism for the comments but added that he “got a ton of positive feedback, too.”

Daniels’ response to the new questions over the truce were curious as his previous comments made it clear to pro-life advocates that he wanted to put aside social issues like abortion. At the time, he also would not commit to overturning President Barack Obama’s reversal of the Mexico City Policy that prevents taxpayer funding of groups that perform and promote abortions overseas, though he later walked back that comment.

In the Star interview, Daniels talked about the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, and said that those who favor repealing the policy would have to get along in a time of war with those who don’t.

“I say that with enormous respect for the people who want to see gay marriage legalized or who have a strong view on some other such question and want to see don’t ask, don’t tell go away,” he said.

The response is curious because it has Daniels making it appear the truce is directed at liberal social activists and not conservatives, though, on abortion, the activists bringing up legislation and talking about the issues are on the pro-life side.

To that end, Daniels repeated but modified his remarks that, during the legislation session, he doesn’t want to see votes on pro-life legislation “get in the way” of votes on his top issues — the economy and the environment — though he admitted he thinks lawmakers can do both.

“Here’s something that hasn’t changed much. Every year people say ‘well that seems like a lot to do’ and I say ‘nah, we can do more than you think we can.’ And we always do,” he told the newspaper. “As long as it [pro-life legislation] doesn’t interfere with one of the largest opportunities –the ones I keep talking about: the big reform categories, the budget. And it needn’t. But that would be my only concern. If it threatened to crowd out or stop business in a way that meant we couldn’t leap forward for our school kids and all these other issues, then I’d have a problem with it,”

Daniels also talked about his timetable for making a decision on seeking the Republican nomination for president.

“I haven’t made any decision, can’t for at least awhile, need to think about it. When we were sitting here a year ago, I guarantee you I had no plans and haven’t made any. But I’m astonished at the number and the caliber of the people who have asked me to consider this,” he said. “I haven’t encouraged it, I haven’t solicited it and I haven’t lifted a finger to do anything about it. There’s no exploratory committee running around out there somewhere.”

“More than that I cannot say. You’ll see. I said, if not a year ago certainly in the course of the year, watch what we do, and we did what we said we would. We tended to our knitting here in Indiana. That will continue to be the case. I’m going to be completely focused on this General Assembly and our agenda, and that’s going to take the next four months,” he added. “I certainly wouldn’t pull any trigger on such a thing till then. Some folks say to me that could be too late. If it is, it is.”