Haley Barbour, the Republican governor of Mississippi who is mentioned as a potential presidential candidate, has said again that he opposes any talk of a truce on social issues like abortion.
Barbour got himself in a bit of trouble last year when he made comments that put him in line with the controversial truce fellow governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana advocated, and he seemed to think pro-life issues would not be helpful in the 2010 mid-term elections – even though they drove conservative turnout and resulted in the election of the most pro-life House of Representatives since Roe v. Wade in 1973.
Barbour then shifted gears in an interview with LifeNews.com — backing away from any talk of an abortion truce and saying he did not believe social issues like abortion had to be set aside or put on the back burner — “I don’t believe that at all. Social issues do matter.”
In a speech today at a breakfast hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, Barbour said the federal government’s “first priority” should be “economic growth and job creation.”
“That’s got to be the main thing,” he said, according to a report in The Hill.
But Barbour said social issues like abortion can occupy the same level of priority and The Hill indicated “Barbour also said he wasn’t concerned by the House GOP majority taking up issues like abortion and healthcare despite the condition of the economy.”
“I think we can walk and chew bubble gum at the same time,” the governor said.
The comments will put Barbour in good stead with pro-life voters should he decided to mount a campaign for the Republican nomination to face pro-abortion President Barack Obama. It also puts him in line with other potential Republican presidential candidates.
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.”
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.”
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.”