Boehner Takes on Abortion Truce: Can’t Ignore Social Issues

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 1, 2011   |   12:50PM   |   Washington, DC

Speaker John Boehner is the latest elected official to respond to the controversial abortion “truce” Indiana Governor and potential presidential candidate Mitch Daniels put forward last year.

The Daniels comments that social issues like abortion should essentially be put on the back burner while the next president deals with the economy have upset pro-life groups and other potential presidential candidates ranging from Mike Huckabee and Tim Pawlenty to Haley Barbour and Rick Santorum have said they disagree.

Boehner spoke about the truce in reaction to a question from CBN News national political correspondent David Brody.

“Mitch Daniels has talked about calling a truce on the social issues because we’ve got to get our fiscal house in order. Do you buy into the fact that social issues should be put on the back burner because of what’s going on in our nation?” Brody asked the top House Republican.

“Listen, I love Mitch. He’s a friend of mine. He’s got his hands full as do many Governors with a fiscal crisis in their states so I don’t know what context he may have made that remark,” Boehner said. “All I know is that these are important issues to our country and they are not to be ignored.”

Meanwhile, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican, also weighed in on the truce in new comments reported by the Washington Post, and appeared to side with Daniels.

“From my perspective, I don’t think we have the luxury of being able to debate social issues like we used to,” Haley said.

The Post didn’t provide the full context of the statement but indicated: “Haley didn’t weigh in directly on Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, but she appeared to sympathize with him on one issue. Haley said those social issues will always be a part of the GOP platform, but that they should be on the back burner when it comes to the 2012 presidential campaign.”

Haley is strongly pro-life and was supported by pro-life groups in her bid for the gubernatorial position.

Most recently, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Santorum denounced the Daniels “truce.”

“I think that it’s absolutely critical to get the economy growing without raising taxes or increasing the deficit,” Jindal said. “I’m also proud to belong to a party that stands for the sanctity of human life and traditional marriage. Those values remain important during good and bad economic times.”

Santorum said  Republicans must keep values issues at the forefront in comments that Tom Beaumont, chief political reporter for the Des Moines Register, said sounded like “an indirect shot at fellow prospective Republican presidential candidate Mitch Daniels.”

“I think it shows there are some people who are willing to stand up and fight for the family and others who would rather, to use the comment of one potential candidate, call a truce on these things,” Santorum said during taping of Iowa Press at Iowa Public Television in Johnston. “A truce in this case means ceding ground to the other side.”

That was the second time Santorum has weighed in with a response to Daniels, doing so earlier in February.

Huckabee said recently: “Republicans can certainly walk and chew gum at the same time. I think it’s ridiculous to say we can only touch the economy, we can’t talk about anything else. We have to.”

John Thune, a top Senate Republican who recently decided against running for president, added, “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. 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.”

Barbour backed away from earlier comments supporting a truce when he told  “I don’t believe that at all. Social issues do matter.”

And Pawlenty said last year, “I’m not sure what Mitch had in mind there but there’s a whole coalition of people and interests and issues that comprise the conservative movement and the conservative perspective. I’m a fiscal conservative as well as a social conservative, so I don’t think it’s an either/or. I think it’s both. And right now the economy is a pressing issue for the nation, and we’re all primarily focused on that and jobs and the like, but that’s not to say there isn’t space to discuss other issues.”