Daniels “Muddled” on 2012, Planned Parenthood Funding a Test

Politics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 25, 2011   |   12:04PM   |   Indianapolis, IN

In a new interview with the Washington Post, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels says he is “muddled” on whether to run for the Republican nomination for president. But, for pro-life advocates, a critical test is coming on Planned Parenthood funding.

Asked where Daniels is currently at vis-a-vis his thinking on a potential GOP presidential bid, the governor told the Post, “Oh, muddled.”

He responded more seriously a moment later, saying, “I don’t want to leave a misimpression. If we get in, we will go all out, and we know a little about how to do that. So reluctance or hesitation about running doesn’t mean we would be a reluctant candidate if we got there.”

Daniels also said family considerations play a big role in determining whether he will join likely candidates like Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Haley Barbor — and potential candidates like Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin and others.

“I don’t have much more to say about that,” he said. “It’s just a very important factor.”

Daniels has a pro-life record as governor but he has upset pro-life voters repeatedly with his comment supporting a truce on social issues like abortion. As recently as mid-March, Daniels said he remains committed to the social issues truce — which advocates putting abortion on the back burner while the next president tackles the challenges of turning around the beleaguered economy.

But he will face significantly more criticism if he vetoes a bill the Indiana state Senate gave final approval to that would cut off state taxpayer funding to the Planned Parenthood abortion business and ban abortions after 20 weeks based on the scientific evidence showing unborn babies feel pain. The Indiana bill would cut off Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood, denying the abortion business $3 million annually in taxpayer funds.

State senators voted to add a measure that was not brought up earlier in the year to a larger pro-life bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy because unborn children are capable of feeling massive pain at that point in pregnancy. The state Senate voted 36 to 13 to add the de-funding provision to HB 1210, which has the strong support of pro-life groups like Indiana Right to Life and the Indiana Family Institute.

HB 1210 heads to the House for a final vote before going to Governor Daniels. What he decides to do about the legislation could make or break a potential presidential campaign.

Spokeswoman Jane Jankowski says Daniels has not made any decision on the legislation yet and will wait to see if the House signs off on the Senate’s decision to include the Planned Parenthood de-funding provision in the bill. While he faces lobbying from pro-life advocates to sign the measure, Planned Parenthood is already threatening to sue the state if Daniels signs the legislation into law.

Daniels has repeatedly said he is waiting to make a decision on a 2012 presidential bid until this year’s legislative session wraps up. That points to a potential early May decision and a weeks-old veto of a bill pro-life advocates are pressing for will not serve Daniels well. But his signing the legislation into law could make some pro-life voters less reticent to support him given the truce talk.