Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has promoted a “truce” on abortion and social issues again in a new interview that will surely cause him problems with pro-life voters should he decide to seek the Republican nomination for president.
Though Daniels is pro-life and has a pro-life record as governor, last summer he said there should be a “truce” on social issues including abortion and his comments immediately sparked a backlash among pro-life groups and other potential presidential candidates like Mike Huckabee and Tim Pawlenty.
Daniels went as far as saying he would didn’t know if he would reinstate the Mexico City Policy that prevents taxpayer funding of groups that promote and perform abortions overseas, but he later walked back that comment. He eventually appeared to try to restate the truce — by claiming it applied only to liberals who want to move social issues in a leftward direction.
“Laura, I said this some time ago. It’s still my point of view, and thank you for noticing. You know, ours has been without question the most pro-life administration in our state’s history. We haven’t just talked about it, we have advanced the right-to-life,” Daniels said, according to The Hill. “My outlook on these questions is the same as some of those who have questioned what I said.”
“I guess two things,” Daniels added. “One is that, first, those remarks were directed as much to the aggressors on the other side of these questions — for instance, the proponents of gay marriage — as much directed to them as anybody with whom I’m in agreement.”
Asked if liberals have called a truce on social issues, Daniels responded, “No, obviously not. I said I was thinking of them as much as my own allies when I said it,” he said about the truce.
“The major point, though, was something different, and it was just this: I believe…. that the arithmetic of our times says we are headed for Niagara Falls, fiscally. You cannot run any kind of enterprise — private or public — on a self-governing basis as deeply in hawk as we now are and are going to be,” Daniels added. “…. to change the whole size and scope of the federal government in a radical way, then we are going to need a very broad constituency in this country to do that…. so that’s all I meant, kind of a priority matter, first things first. Maybe we could just concentrate on that for a little while, because I think that’s the most immediate threat to the republic we’ve known.”
Later in the interview, The Hill transcript indicates, Daniels returned to the truce issue, saying fiscal issues should take precedence and social issues like abortion should be “muted” for awhile.
“I would like to think that fixing it and saving our kids future could be a unifying moment for our country and we wouldn’t stop our disagreements or our passionate belief in these other questions, we just sort of mute them for a little while, while we try to come together on the thing that menaces us all,” he concluded.
David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network says the truce comments will be brought up if Daniels hops in the GOP presidential race.
“If Daniels gets in the race you can be sure that some other candidate is going to call him out on this. Whoever does it first will immediately endear himself or herself to social conservatives nationwide,” he says.
Meanwhile, the conservative American Principles Project is blasting Daniels for his latest remarks.
“We cannot repair the economy without addressing the deep cultural issues that are tearing apart the family and society,” said Andy Blom, executive director of the American Principles Project. “The conservative movement has always been about addressing ALL issues—economic, social and national security—that are in need of repair.”
“It’s unfortunate Gov. Daniels doesn’t seem to understand the winning philosophy of Ronald Reagan that brought conservatism to victory by addressing all three issues,” said Frank Cannon, President of American Principles Project. “If Mitch Daniels is planning to run for president by running away from social issues, he will face a grassroots revolt.”
“The national furor over the expansion of abortion coverage and efforts to re-define marriage demonstrates the resistance he will face. There is no appetite among grassroots conservatives to run away from these critical issues,” said Mr. Blom. “Mr. Daniels is only causing divisions in the movement by this talk of a ‘truce.’”