INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said his recent comment that
the next president should call a “truce” on social issues reflects how
urgently he feels about other problems such as the economy, national debt,
homeland security and America’s role in the world.
Daniels told reporters Friday that the idea of a social truce was just a
“I picked the word truce because no one has to change their point of view.
No one has to surrender,” Daniels said. “We might simply try to come
together. I think it will take that if we’re going to address what I believe
are the most urgent problems of the country.”
Daniels riled some social conservatives after The Weekly Standard reported
his idea for the truce in a flattering profile this week. Former Arkansas
Gov. Mike Huckabee, a possible GOP presidential candidate in 2012, said on
his website that social issues are moral issues, not political issues or
“Governor Daniels is a personal friend and a terrific governor, and I’m very
disappointed that he would think that pro-life and pro-family activists
would just lie down,” Huckabee says on his site before asking for donations
for his political action committee.
“A strong leader doesn’t need to focus myopically on one or two issues,”
Huckabee wrote. “But a strong leader is willing to fight for and defend
their principles while rising to meet new challenges and solve all of the
existing systemic problems confronting us.”
Daniels said he hopes Americans can come together around the “survival
issues” he thinks are most important and agree to disagree on other items
“I really believe that for the first time, the future of the American
experiment is at risk,” Daniels said.
Daniels may be taking some heat from social conservatives, but his idea of a
truce won’t hurt him if he should decide to run for president in 2012, said
Robert Dion, a professor of American politics at the University of
“It’s a very appealing idea to try to ratchet down the unpleasantness and
seek common ground,” Dion said. “It makes perfect sense for him to adopt a
stance that aims for what most Americans are sort of secretly yearning for,
and that’s a calmer tone and a little more cooperation.”
The Weekly Standard article and the fact that Daniels’ political action
committee, Aiming Higher, is hosting a fundraiser Monday in Washington,
D.C., have raised more speculation that Daniels might be considering a
Daniels said Friday that he has nothing new to say about that. He said in
February that he doesn’t want to run but would keep the door open to it
after some Republicans urged him to keep an open mind. He had said last
summer that he would not subject his family to the “savagery” and scrutiny
of a national campaign.
He also says his focus is on Indiana, where he hopes to have a GOP-friendly
Legislature after November elections.
Daniels said he thought political pundits would be looking elsewhere by now.
“I didn’t necessarily think the pickin’s would be so slim,” he said.
Dion said if Daniels decides to run, it might help his cause by waiting to
jump in the race. He could focus on Indiana and push his agenda in the state
“The Republican Party is looking for an ideas person who can win,” Dion
said. “In many ways, the smartest thing he could do is to build up a record
of success here.”
Daniels said the reason people have focused on him for president is because
of successes in the state.
“They notice something interesting’s going on in Indiana. It is not my
matinee idol looks,” Daniels quipped.