In a new interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network on Wednesday, South Dakota Sen. John Thune, a potential 2012 GOP presidential candidate, says there should be no truce on social issues like abortion.
Thune’s comments come in response to the controversy initially generated by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who, last summer, seemed to suggest social issues like abortion should be put on the back burner while the next president tackles fixing the economy.
The truce comments sparked significant backlash with pro-life groups and other potential Republican presidential hopefuls like Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, and Rick Santorum bashing the notion of any truce on abortion.
“I think there are issues that people feel deeply about, and they’re profound issues. The issues of life. The issues of family. And I don’t think we can minimize those in the debate,” Thune said in the new interview. “For any conservative or any Republican to get elected to office, you have to have the support and hopefully the energetic support of people who care passionately about the social issues. So, they’re important. And we shouldn’t trivialize that.”
“With regard to the economic issues, fiscal issues, I think most social conservatives agree that we want a government that’s smaller, a government that’s responsive and accountable and all that,” Thune told CBN. “But, we also need to recognize that there are important issues that impact the basic glue, the foundation that holds our country together, and that comes down to the family unit. And we can’t ignore those.”
About his own views on topics like abortion, Thune says he approaches them from an evangelical Christian perspective.
“It’s foundational. You basically, over the course of your lifetime, your faith experience, your faith tradition, your family, you develop a worldview. I have a Christian worldview, so it shapes the way that I view issues. I don’t apologize for that, and I don’t think that people of faith ought to shrink away from being in the public arena,” he told CBN’s David Brody. “Right now there’s probably no more important time in our nation’s history that people of faith, people who believe in our founders, believe in the wisdom of our founders and in our Constitution, in the sanctity of marriage, in life, be engaged in these debates.”
Thune told National Review on Tuesday that he thinks he would match up best against pro-abortion President Barack Obama and added that he would make a final decision about whether he will run for president by the end of the month.
The comments from the South Dakota senator come after an exclusive interview Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour gave LifeNews.com in which he backed down from earlier support for the Daniels truce.
Barbour said social issues did not have to be set aside or put on the back burner — “I don’t believe that at all. Social issues do matter.”
Asked to clarify and explain his position, though he did not say as much directly, Barbour appeared to differentiate between the pro-life policy positions he would promote as president and the focus of the message of a potential presidential campaign.
“To win, we have to talk about the issues people care about,” he said of a potential campaign for president. “Campaigns ought to be on the issues people have on their minds. People voted in 2010 on Obama’s economic policies, energy issue and of course healthcare.”