Opinion: Daniels, Barbour Should Heed RNC Candidates Pro-Life Unity

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 11, 2011   |   2:36PM   |   Washington, DC

The president of a pro-life women’s group has a message for potential presidential candidate Mitch Daniels and Haley Barbour, the governors of Indiana and Mississippi.

Marjorie Dannenfeler, the head of the Susan B. Anthony List, noted that each of the candidates for the chairmanship of the national Republican Party said they were pro-life on abortion and endorsed legislation to de-fund the Planned Parenthood abortion business.

Writing in an opinion column at National Review, Dannenfelser said the ubiquitous positions of the RNC candidates is the “truce” that really counts — a reference to the truce on abortion and social issues the governors advocated last year that drew outrage from the pro-life community.

“Last summer, Indiana governor Mitch Daniels called for a “truce” on social issues like abortion and gay marriage. After the first political debate of 2011, it now seems far more likely — and logical — that there will be a truce on truces,” Dannenfelser wrote.

Referring to the January 3 debate featuring the five RNC chairman candidates, Dannelfeser noted the “debate was completely devoid of the kind of fireworks that political commentators love” as “each of the five candidates affirmed without hesitation their determination to support the Republican platform’s social-issue stands and to honor that support in the party’s programs.”

“Far from being a dull affair, however, the debate proved that the 2011 GOP has an unshakable core — and this core exercises real influence over the expressed convictions of the GOP’s national leaders,” she added. That came even though current RNC chairman Michael Steele and candidate Maria Cino disappointed pro-life advocates with past remarks favoring abortion or involvement in groups that favor abortions.

Noticing the cohesive pro-life tenor of the comments from the candidates, Dannenfelser said, “At the debate, both Steele and Cino expressed profound pro-life conviction and commitment.”

For the SBA List president, she said in the National Review column that the fact that each of the five RNC chair candidates public enunciated a pro-life view ought to be evidence to Daniels and Barbour that the GOP is strongly pro-life.

“If the candidates’ pro-life convictions go this deep, the national grassroots must be overwhelmingly so,” she writes. “This message can’t and won’t be lost on potential presidential nominees like Daniels and Gov. Haley Barbour.”

“All of this is progress — and rapid progress at that. It’s also recognition that the conservative resurgence this past November involved a confluence, and not a divergence, of the social, fiscal, and national-security streams within the GOP. One week into the two-year cycle that leads to the reelection or defeat of Barack Obama, the GOP truce on internal disunity is turning out to be the one that really counts,” Dannenfelser concluded.

Daniels told the Weekly Standard last summer that 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,” by casting social issues like abortion aside so the next president can focus on fixing the beleaguered economy.

Barbour faced his own backlash from pro-life advocates after saying at a breakfast that pro-life advocates should ditch social issues this election cycle in favor of focusing on the economy.

“Any issue that takes people’s eye off of unemployment, job creation, economic growth, taxes, spending, deficits, debts is taking your eye off the ball,” Barbour said, according to a Daily Caller report.

“But if somebody goes to campaign for governor candidate x, I would hope that somebody would stay focused on the issues that matter to the campaign: jobs, the economy, taxes, spending, debt, deficits,” Barbour continued. “You run down rabbit trails, you’re wasting— you’re using up valuable resources that could be used to talk to people about what they care about.”

Daniels told WS reporter John McCormack “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 Obama revoked.

That caused such a stir that Daniels was forced to walk back the comments — later telling reporter Michael Gerson he would sign the Mexico City Policy but saying he would stick to his controversial comments calling for a “truce” on abortion. 

Last month, 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.”

The truce has come under fire from Governor Tim Pawlenty, Rep. Mike Pence, Congressman Paul Ryan, and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, among others.