Mitch Daniels told THE WEEKLY STANDARD's Andy Ferguson that the next president "would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues. We’re going to just have to agree to get along for a little while,” until economic issues are resolved.
This morning, at the Heritage Foundation, I asked Daniels if that meant the next president shouldn't push issues like stopping taxpayer funding of abortion in Obamacare or reinstating the Mexico City Policy banning federal funds to overseas groups that perform abortions. Daniels replied that we face a "genuine national emergency" regarding the budget and that "maybe these things could be set aside for a while. But this doesn't mean anybody abandons their position at all. Everybody just stands down for a little while, while we try to save the republic."
To clarify whether Daniels simply wants to de-emphasize these issues or actually not act on them, I asked if, as president, he would issue an executive order to reinstate Reagan's "Mexico City Policy" his first week in office. (Obama revoked the policy during his first week in office.) Daniels replied, "I don't know."
Daniels said he didn't want to do anything to "impede" attempts to solve our fiscal problems. But it's not clear that maintaining Obama's policies on these issues for some period of time--which is what one assumes a truce means--would buy a Republican president any goodwill on fiscal issues. A Gallup poll found that only 35 percent of voters approved of Obama's reversal of the Mexico City policy. And a Washington Post poll found that only 35 percent of voters think those purchasing health care with government assistance should be able to buy plans that cover abortions.
Though Daniels didn't go so far as to propose a "truce" on foreign policy issues, Jennifer Rubin writes that Daniels might have trouble with foreign policy hawks, as well as social conservatives, in a GOP primary:
I asked him the sole question on foreign policy — in what fundamental ways Obama had erred? He did not address any of the basic concerns conservatives have been discussing (e.g., engagement with despots, indifference on human rights, animus toward Israel). Instead, he gave a platitude, “Peace through strength has totally been vindicated.” And then he immediately asserted that we have to “ask questions about the extent of our commitments.” He said, “If we go broke, no one will follow a pauper.” At least temporarily, he said, we can’t maintain all our commitments.
Agree or disagree with his ideas, Daniels is certainly a politician who speaks his mind and isn't calibrating every statement for GOP caucus goers in Iowa.