Mitch Daniels: Truce Directed at Liberals, Not for Social Conservatives

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 28, 2010   |   1:58PM   |   Indianapolis, IN

Indiana governor Mitch Daniels has given yet another interview in which he talks about a social issues truce he put forward this summer that upset pro-life conservatives.

The interview with WANE follows on the one he gave the Indianapolis Star in which he appeared to shift position and suggest the truce was meant for liberals, not social conservatives concerned about issues like abortion.

In the Star interview, Daniels suggested the truce was meant for liberal activists like those who favored repealing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy — and he continued that line of thinking in the WANE question and answer session.

Asked if the truce “wasn’t anything to alarm social conservatives” he responded, “First of all, it wasn’t directed to them. It was directed as much to people who, for instance, are very aggressively trying to change the definition of marriage… Stand down for awhile. Let’s save America.”

“I never regret saying what I think. I’ve tried to make a practice of being straight and level with people and I accept if people disagree. I think some people misunderstood what I was really saying,” the potential Republican presidential candidate said when asked if he regretted the truce comments. “I simply meant that I think the nation faces a genuine emergency in the debt we’ve piled up. It could wreck America. It could end the American dream literally if we don’t handle it and handle it soon.”

“It’s just like if there was an army on our border. We would drop other things or we would set them aside for awhile and we would rush to the barricades and defend our country. And all I was saying was [that] if you’re facing a mortal survival threat like that, we’re going to need to get together more than just a bare majority of Americans. When you’re trying to make big change in a state or a nation, the way to do that is to have an unnaturally large consensus. And so we’re going to need people who disagree sincerely about other questions to agree about these changes,” Daniels added.

Daniels sought to reassure pro-life advocates that, as president, he would appoint the kind of judges they would be able to support.

“I’ve had the first and only Indiana Supreme Court opportunity I think I’ll ever get. Anybody looking at the choice [should see] a strict constructionist, very much a person who wants to interpret law, not make law. Of course that’s my view and a very deeply held one,” he said.

During the summer, Daniels 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.

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 an interview published yesterday 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 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.”