Drafting Mitch Daniels into the CPAC Boycott

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 11 2011 11:16 AM

Drafting Mitch Daniels into the CPAC Boycott

The American Principles Project, Robert George's new-ish conservative group that kicked off the slow-burning "social con boycott" of CPAC, is attacking conference organizers for booking Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels as one of its banquet speakers. (There are two ticketed banquets during CPAC.) APP's executive director Andy Blom press-releases:

Unfortunately, while Governor Daniels is slated to speak at CPAC’s "Reagan Dinner," he has failed to understand how Ronald Reagan fused the three critical legs of the conservative movement into one coherent governing philosophy. Governor Daniels’ selection is an affront to the millions of conservatives who believe that social issues such as abortion and traditional marriage are non-negotiable.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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The objection is over a quote Daniels gave to Andrew Ferguson in a 2010 Weekly Standard profile.*

Beyond the debt and the deficit, in Daniels's telling, all other issues fade to comparative insignificance. He's an agnostic on the science of global warming but says his views don't matter. "I don't know if the CO2 zealots are right," he said. "But I don't care, because we can't afford to do what they want to do. Unless you want to go broke, in which case the world isn't going to be any greener. Poor nations are never green."

And then, he says, the next president, whoever he is, "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 the economic issues are resolved. 

Daniels was saying something that many Republicans agree with but haven't said. (Quick: Name the social conservative legislation proposed so far in the 112th Congress.) It became a rallying issue for social conservatives anyway, which is why APP is pressing... I was about to say "pressing its advantage," but the venerable conservative conference is still going on with most high-profile speakers and co-sponsors. This really is just about that Daniels quote, because in the months since he offered it social conservatives have not pointed to any Daniels deviation from their priorities. (He's got the opposite of Mitt Romney's problem -- red meat rhetoric combined with hard-to-defend 1990s stances.)

*Ferguson also got the damaging "Civil Rights era wasn't all that bad" stuff from Haley Barbour. It's amazing what a good reporter can draw from a politician if he hangs out with him and doesn't try for gotchas.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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