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Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels Reacts To President Obama’s Marriage Stance

Friday, May 11, 2012
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HH: For a very sober-minded, and I think thoughtful approach to this issue, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels comes back. Governor, I am curious. You’ve always thought about how to address these things thoughtfully. What’s your reaction to this week’s news, both from North Carolina and from the White House?

MD: I think neither was surprising, Hugh, but the President’s launching into this thing, I thought, was especially disappointing. You know, my own view is that this is a time of great danger for the country. The need to come together around some big changes, to downsize government, reform entitlements and get on a pro-growth footing, and I think that this is just the latest of so many attempts on his part to divide us, and really to distract people from the failures of his administration. And I think he’d rather talk about anything else than an economy that’s really lost jobs, an economy in which median income has fallen, and about the looming dangers of the debt that he has doubled. So I guess I understand what he’s up to here, but I think it is really unfortunate and just the latest demonstration of his willingness to divide, if that’s what it takes to hang onto power.

HH: Now Governor Daniels, he had a very disappointing “launch” of his presidential campaign. He went to The Ohio State University and had thousands of empty chairs. He’s raising money by raffling off tickets to the George Clooney dinner tonight, because he can’t get the online response he had before. How many more tricks are in his bag, other than confronting the reality of an absolute failure as a president?

MD: I’m afraid I know the answer. In addition to a division, and as a part of that strategy, he and his folks are really without rivals, I think, in terms of negative attacks and personal attacks on those who oppose them. And I suspect we’ve seen some of it already, and I suspect we’ll see a lot more of that. Again, I believe that a winning approach this year, for those who disagree with this presidency, is to concentrate on the overriding financial and economic issues that could serve as a rallying point for not every American, of course, but for a large majority, a majority big enough to go get something done about them after the voting is over.

HH: Now Governor Daniels, I am reminded of ’73 when Roe V. Wade came down, and the Supreme Court launched what has now been a 35-40 years of battle over a decision that was unnecessary as the country was moving its way towards a federalist-driven approach to the issue of abortion. Are we in the same situation now because obviously, North Carolina, 31 out of 32 times, voters have said no, we want marriage to be one man and one woman. New York, however, passed in the due and proper order, a same sex marriage statute that no originalist can argue is not their right to do. So do you fear that this will be federalized, and in becoming federalized, will be another abortion debate that will go on for decades and generations?

MD: I think that it’s a risk, and I agree entirely with your analysis of this, Hugh. You know, whatever one’s view about the right to life, and we in Indiana have protected it actively, about as well as anyone, but the worst thing about Roe V. Wade was it ripped out of the democratic process, it ripped away from free citizens the right to decide a question like this, which is really, it has no final answer. People have to search their own values and conscience. So it would be a big mistake for two reasons. One, it would, to federalize this question, it would force a uniform policy on everybody, and disenfranchise a lot of people. And in the process, I think it would further undermine people’s sense of citizenship and the sense that their view counts in our democracy.

HH: And a last question, Governor Daniels, I’m sure like me, you’ve got many good, close friends who are gay or lesbian. You may have family members who are gay or lesbian. I always assume everybody does. It just seems that way in America now. And so when they look at you and you say you know, you don’t support same sex marriage, you’re bigoted, how do you respond to them on that issue?

MD: As a first time candidate, and on my first day in office, we imposed by executive order the first anti-discrimination rule in our state’s history. And we have implemented it rigorously every since. And it extends to every sort of gender preference. There can be no excuse for discrimination in our country. And that’s something on which I believe the vast majority of Americans can agree. Marriage, in its traditional definition, is a different question, and one which, as you just pointed out, is best left to people in smaller communities where values and views on that differ. And Washington has ripped plenty of decisions away from the people, and away from their locally elected representatives, and I sure hope this will not become another one.

HH: And last question which is political, not related to marriage. Today, the Washington Post published a lengthy story about Mitt Romney’s high school years, and apparently an incident that he can’t remember, but he apologized for anyway. Is this just par for the course for what we’re going to see for the next five months as anything but the employment picture in America is attempted to replace the employment picture in America?

MD: Yes, I’m afraid so. That’s what I was referring to a minute ago. I didn’t see this story, but I’m sure there’ll be others. And I just hope, really, that friends of change will not take the bait. You know, this is, we’ve seen a series of things that would attempt to shift the debate onto other grounds than the one on which this administration, I think, has no defense at all – their fiscal policies, their financial policies, their economic policies. They’ve been a colossal failure. This is the central problem. We have others facing the country, and ought to be, really the focus of the fall debate. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried instead to move it to other issues, or to personal attacks on Mr. Romney or others who disagree with him.

HH: Mitch Daniels, Governor of Indiana, thanks for rejoining us, Governor.

End of interview.

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