Daniels Close to Presidential Run, Abortion Truce May Hurt Him

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 7, 2011   |   2:57PM   |   Washington, DC

Reports indicate Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is inching closer towards a presidential run for the Republican nomination, but he may be hurt by an abortion truce he declared last summer.

Erin McPike of Real Clear Politics writes, “Republican sources in Indiana say Daniels is about 75 percent of the way in for a presidential run.”

“The last 25 percent of his decision will come during the next four months of the Indiana legislative session, when he will try to pass education reform and a budget,” he notes.

Daniels has also accepted an invitation to appear at CPAC — the Conservative Political Action Conference that is something of a beauty pageant for GOP presidential hopefuls. Potential Republican candidates with large and small shots of capturing the nomination are expected to attend and to appeal to he social, fiscal and national defense conservatives activists and writers and bloggers who will be there.

“It’s another sign that Daniels is thinking seriously about a White House bid. He has previously eschewed the Republican cattle call circuit, insisting that he’s entirely focused on his day job,” Politico indicates.

While Daniels has a pro-life record as governor and has worked with pro-life groups, he promoted an abortion truce last summer that had him calling for social conservatives to back down on issues like abortion so the economy could be addressed.

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.

The truce was immediately condemned by potential Republican rivals Tim Pawlenty and Mike Huckabee and pro-life groups went out of their way to condemn it — a sign he could have problems in states like Iowa and South Carolina, where the pro-life contingent of Republicans dominates the caucus and primary elections.

Daniels appeared to finally understand the damage he may have caused himself with the majority of Republicans who oppose abortions when he backtracked on his truce in a December interview and said he meant the truce was for liberals who were pressing on social issues, not conservatives seeking to stop them.

Asked if the truce “wasn’t anything to alarm social conservatives” he responded, “First of all, it wasn’t directed to them.”

Daniels also 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.

If Daniels is serious about a presidential bid, he will need to clearly refute any notion of a truce and convince pro-life voters he will authoritatively stand up to abortion as president, restore protections against abortion funding, and appoint judges who will use the rule of law at the Supreme Court.