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Daniels: Social truce would allow focus on economy, debt, security

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Associated Press Writer

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 suggestion.

“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 bargaining chips.

“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 for now.

“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 Evansville.

“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 presidential run.

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 until 2011.

“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.



Posted 6/14/2010




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