If Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) hoped making his state the first to defund Planned Parenthood clinics would give a boost to his presidential ambitions, it appears he may have been right.
Speaking with reporters after a tea party meeting about the debt ceiling on Monday morning, Iowa social conservative star Bob Vander Plaats said that Daniels’ decision to sign the bill ending taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood in Indiana puts the concerns over Daniels’ talk of a social issue “truce” to rest.“Actions speak louder than words,” Vander Plaats said. A failed contender for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2010, Vander Plaats has become one of Iowa’s keepers of the social conservative standard thanks to his social politics group, The Family Leader.
Vander Plaats has lined up lectures by several Republican presidential contenders before social conservative audiences, and he said he sees Daniels as a possible contender in the state should he choose to run. Daniels has often found himself facing the ire of social conservatives after he suggested divisions over social issues should be put on the backburner to make it easier for the country’s partisans to unite and fix fiscal problems.
That idea drew a lot of fire from social conservatives, and has led to speculation that Daniels might have a hard time winning the support of Republicans in state’s like Iowa, where social conservatism plays a big part in the GOP base.
But Vander Plaats said that Daniels is not out of the running in Iowa yet, and the Planned Parenthood law has a lot to do with it. Vander Plaats said he wants Daniels “to clarify” what he meant exactly by a “truce” on social issues, but he suggested that if laws like the Planned Parenthood defund fit in with Daniels’ plan, it’s a truce Vander Plaat’s people can live with. He called on Daniels to come out to Iowa and address the social conservatives and explain himself.
“We welcome Gov. Daniels,” he said.
Vander Plaats also said there’s still plenty of time for new candidates to get into the race, even as the early 2012 Iowa caucus date approaches rapidly. He said he would welcome a bid from Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) and said that Donald Trump could be a worthwhile addition to the field, too.
“We’re looking for more voices, not less,” Vander Plaats said.
He also confirmed rumors that presumptive frontrunner Mitt Romney is steering clear of Iowa for the time being.
“I haven’t seen any network for Gov. Romney,” Vander Plaats told TPM. “I haven’t seen any presence from him at all.”