Mitch Daniels
Jose Luis Magana  /  AP
Gov. Mitch Daniels speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington on Feb. 11.
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updated 4/28/2011 11:44:53 AM ET 2011-04-28T15:44:53

As Mitch Daniels, the Republican governor of Indiana who last year called for a "truce on the so-called social issues," approaches his deadline for deciding whether to run for president, state lawmakers have put on his desk a pair of showcase conservative ideas.

In the final days of the state's legislative session, lawmakers approved plans to create the nation's broadest private school voucher system and make Indiana the first state to cut off all government funding for Planned Parenthood.

Daniels has pushed the voucher program, but the Planned Parenthood measure could present a political predicament for him as he nears a decision on whether he will run for president. Daniels has said it's a decision he'll make not long after lawmakers adjourn for the year, expected on Friday.

The governor has said it's a decision he'll make after lawmakers adjourn for the year, but he told The Indianapolis Star Thursday that he would not have an announcement this weekend even though the legislative session ends Friday. Spokeswoman Jane Jankowski confirmed Daniels' comments to The Associated Press but said he was unavailable for comment.

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The Indiana House approved both ideas Wednesday, sending them to Daniels to decide what to do next.

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The Planned Parenthood measure is a significant victory for the anti-abortion movement and would cut the $3 million in federal money the state distributes to the Planned Parenthood organization for family planning and health programs. It also ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy unless there is a substantial threat to the woman's life or health and requires women seeking an abortion be told that life begins at conception and that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges in a nearby hospital.

Story: The 2012 GOP presidential field

As Daniels considers the measure, he could be forced to make a decision between the state's fiscal interests and a prime goal of his party's social conservatives.

If he signs it, Indiana risks losing $4 million in federal grants for family planning services. If he vetoes it, Daniels could antagonize ardent social conservatives already wary of his public statements about the importance of focusing on economic issues.

Daniels has drawn the ire from cultural conservatives for saying that the next president "would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues until the economic crisis is resolved." And he's reiterated that position by saying, "Purity in martyrdom is for suicide bombers."

But signing the bill could also provide Daniels with the political cover he needs from those who question his commitment to social conservative causes. He could point to it throughout the presidential campaign as evidence that opposition to abortion rights and other social causes are part of his political makeup.

A Daniels spokeswoman said the governor would not comment until the bill arrives on his desk for action. He'll have seven calendar days once he receives the bill to take action. He also could allow it to become law without his signature once those seven days pass.

Video: Cutting union rights (on this page)

Planned Parenthood says abortions account for just 3 percent of the services it provides. Planned Parenthood clinics across the country perform 1 million screenings for cervical cancer, 830,000 breast exams and some 4 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases. Abortion-rights supporters say cutting funding for Planned Parenthood would primarily hurt poor women who often have few choices for health care.

Conservative lawmakers say, however, that any money the organization receives at least indirectly supports abortions.

The voucher program, meanwhile, would allow even middle-class families to use taxpayer money to send their children to private schools. It's contentious, but something Daniels himself has pursued.

Unlike other voucher systems that are limited to lower-income households, children with special needs or those in failing schools, Indiana's program will be open to a much larger pool of students, including those already in excellent schools. Families would have to meet certain income limits to qualify, with families of four making up to about $60,000 a year getting some type of scholarship.

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Daniels' agenda mirrors ideas being pushed nationwide by Republicans empowered by 2010 election victories. But Daniels has successfully led Indiana — a conservative state not known for going out on a limb — into uncharted education territory.

Barbour's difficult path

"Other states are going to be taking notice about how far Indiana's going," said Robert Enlow, president of the Foundation for Educational Choice.

Opponents say Daniels' agenda will hurt public schools by taking money and students away.

"He says that his motivation is to improve student achievement, but so many of these reform measures are not aimed at improving student achievement," said Nate Schnellenberger, president of the state's largest teachers union. "He wouldn't be siphoning public money from public schools if he was concerned about those students who remain at public schools."

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Cutting union rights

  1. Closed captioning of: Cutting union rights

    >>> meanwhile in indiana , house republicans there are pushing bills opposed by organized labor after democrats finally returned to the statehouse, ending a five-week boycott. indiana governor, republican mitch daniels ran the federal budget under former president bush is right in the middle of the budget storm back home. thanks for joining us. let's talk about those union rules and the conflict over the budget and union jobs in indiana . how is this going to be resolved?

    >> peacefully and successfully, andrea. we don't have a budget problem out here. we've been in the black throughout the recession. we did it by keeping spending over the last six years, about a third the rate of inflation. and we will pass or well on our way to passing another balanced budget with ample rainy day reserves in case the economy turns down. again, we did all of this without a tax increase. almost the only state to do so. so any debate there -- and there were a few amendments accepted from our democratic colleagues, but they were at the margin. and we'll have an amicable, i think, conclusion to that debate by the end of april.

    >> well, in neighboring wisconsin, as you know, there is now increasing disapproval. the polls are showing that people are beginning to turn against what governor walker did in rolling back the bargaining rights of the unions. do you think that this is a warning signal for some other republicans who have taken tough stands on these issues.

    >> my own view is results are what matters. we have been through this in indiana . we have 160 pages of collective bargaining , so-called rules in place when we got here and it was absolutely the right thing to do to discontinue that practice. you weren't able to serve the public well. it wasn't just a matter of saving money, although we saved hundreds of of millions of dollars once freed from those restrictions. it was really a matter of being able to change structure, reorganize government, change personnel practices, change technology, and serve the public in a more efficient and effective way. at the front end of one of these, the consternation undoubtedly can lead to some shifts in public opinion , but if they think what they're doing is right for the taxpayer and right for the citizen, they ought to stay the course and citizens will reward good results in the end.

    >> do you think that citizens would reward you if you decided to run for president in 2012 ?

    >> it's not a matter of reward. i always feel that people running for public office , it should always be about the future. i don't think we elect resumes and past records may be are of some value simply for establishing credit.

    >> but they're a relevant measure, though, if people can judge you by -- you say that you think you're revolving the budget issues in indiana , is that a template what you can pitch to the rest of the country as a platform if you decide to run. are you getting closer to that decision?

    >> on the first question, andrea, i've never taken it upon myself to tell any voter what criteria to use. and i'd be happy always -- i'm very proud of things we've got, done here in indiana . we've made a lot of change, and we've made mistakes, but for the most part, i think we're a dramatically better state for the things we've done. but i've always felt that, personally, that campaigns for public office ought to be about the future, about specific plans to make life better, for everyone, and if i ever did become a candidate again, that's the way i'd conduct myself. and as to timing, i'm going to stay on task here and if there's still a relevant question when we're done with this legislature, i'll try to answer it then.

    >> you have said that you do not think that social issues should be, you know, part of the package. you've said that the economy is really what's driving things. yet social issues are now being brought into the budget battles on capitol hill , as writers in part of this debate. should the republicans in washington as well be fighting battles over abortion and things like that right now instead of looking at budget cuts in a purely economic sense?

    >> i wouldn't say no. all i've ever said about this, and i respect those who see it differently, is that when we get to the real show, not the relatively penny stakes they're playing for now around the death scene, when we get to the real show about downsizing the federal government to something that gives our children a chance at a successful future, at saving the safety net by reforming for the future, the unaffordable entitlement programs of today, when we get to 50 caliber issues like that, i just hope that we can gather together and unify people, a large majority, that's going to be necessary to do that. and at that point, maybe for a little while, we could agree to disagree on other questions. that's really an expression of my sense, of the urgency of our debt problem and the economic stagnation , which is contributing to it.

    >> another issue that has come up is the birther issue. donald trump was on "the daily rundown" with savannah and chuck today and he said he embraces that issue, as he toys or claims he's toying with whether or not to run. he's getting a lot of play in talking about the birther issue. do you think that there's any place for that question, the question of president obama 's -- whether or not he's a citizen, whether or not he was born here, whether or not he's qualified to be president, whether he was born in the united states , do you have any questions about that?

    >> i don't. and i just think that the american people elected president obama , had a chance to weigh it at the time. you know, i have my differences with the president, but they have nothing to do with things like that. we really ought to be concentrating ourselves, i believe, on the issues of slow growth in our economy and the completely unsustainable debt that we have piled up and are scheduled to pile up. these issues threaten every one of us, regardless of our ethnicity, regardless of our sexual preference, regardless of anything else that divides us. and i really hope that we'll raise them to the foreand, again, let other things slide for now.

    >> okay. mitch daniels , and when you decide, we hope we hear from you when you decide what you're doing in 2012 . thanks so much for joining us today, governor.

Explainer: The 2012 GOP presidential field

  • A look at the Republican candidates hoping to challenge Barack Obama in the general election.

  • Rick Perry, announced Aug. 13

    Image: Perry
    Sean Gardner  /  REUTERS
    Texas Gov. Rick Perry

    Mere hours before a major GOP debate in Iowa (and a couple of days before the high-interest Ames straw poll), the Perry camp announced that the Texas governor was all-in for 2012.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the Texas governor.

    While some on ground in the early-caucus state criticized the distraction, strategists applauded the move and said Perry was giving Romney a run for his money.

    Slideshow: A look at Gov. Rick Perry's political career

    He may face fierce opposition from secular groups and progressives who argue that his religious rhetoric violates the separation of church and state and that his belief that some groups, such as the Boy Scouts of America, should be allowed to discriminate against gays is bigoted.

  • Jon Huntsman, announced June 21

    Image: Jon Hunt
    Mandel Ngan  /  AFP - Getty Images file
    Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman

    Huntsman, a former governor of Utah, made his bid official on June 21 at at Liberty State Park in New Jersey.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the former governor of Utah.

    He vowed to provide "leadership that knows we need more than hope" and "leadership that doesn’t promise Washington has all the solutions to our problems."

    The early days of his campaign were clouded with reports of internal discord among senior staffers.

    Slideshow: Jon Huntsman Jr.

    Huntsman, who is Mormon, worked as a missionary in Taiwan and is fluent in Mandarin. But his moderate credentials — backing civil unions for gays and the cap-and-trade energy legislation — could hurt him in a GOP primary. So could serving under Obama.

  • Michele Bachmann, announced on June 13

    Image: Michele Bachmann
    Larry Downing  /  REUTERS
    Rep. Michele Bachmann

    Born and raised in Iowa, this Tea Party favorite and Minnesota congresswoman announced during a June 13 GOP debate that she's officially in the running for the Republican nomination.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the Minn. congresswoman.

    Bachmann tells The Associated Press she decided to jump into the 2012 race at this time because she believed it was "the right thing to do."

    She's been criticized for making some high-profile gaffes — among them, claiming taxpayers would be stuck with a $200 million per day tab for President Barack Obama's trip to India and identifying New Hampshire as the site of the Revolutionary War's opening shots.

    Slideshow: The political life of Michele Bachmann

    But Bachmann's proved a viable fundraiser, collecting more than $2 million in political contributions in the first 90 days of 2011 — slightly exceeding the $1.8 million Mitt Romney brought in via his PAC in the first quarter.

  • Rick Santorum, announced on June 6

    Image: Rick Santorum
    Charlie Neibergall  /  AP file
    Former Penn. Sen. Rick Santorum

    A staunch cultural conservative vehemently against abortion and gay marriage, the former Pennsylvania senator hopes to energize Republicans with a keen focus on social issues.

    He announced the launch of a presidential exploratory committee on FOX News, where he makes regular appearances. He make his run official on June 6 in Somerset, Pa., asking supporters to "Join the fight!"

    Click here to see a slideshow of the former Pennsylvania senator.

    No stranger to controversy, Santorum was condemned by a wide range of groups in 2003 for equating homosexuality with incest, pedophilia and bestiality. More recently, Santorum faced criticism when he called Obama’s support for abortion rights “almost remarkable for a black man.”

    Slideshow: Rick Santorum's political life

    Since his defeat by Democrat Robert Casey in his 2006 re-election contest — by a whopping 18 percentage points — Santorum has worked as an attorney and as a think-tank contributor.

    A February straw poll at CPAC had him in twelfth place amongst Republicans with 2 percent of the vote.

  • Mitt Romney, announced on June 2

    Image: Mitt Romney
    Paul Sancya  /  AP file
    Former Massachusetts Gov. and presidential candidate Mitt Romney

    The former Massachusetts governor and 2008 presidential candidate has spent the last three years laying the foundations for another run at the White House — building a vigorous political action committee, making regular media appearances, and penning a policy-heavy book.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the former Mass. governor.

    In April, he announced, via YouTube and Twitter, that he'd formed an exploratory commitee. Romney made his run official in Stratham, N.H., on June 2.

    The former CEO of consulting firm Bain & Company and the president of the organizing committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Romney frequently highlights his business background as one of his main qualifications to serve as president.

    Slideshow: Mitt Romney's life in politics

    To capture the nomination, Romney will have to defend the health care overhaul he enacted during his governorship — legislation that bears similarities to the Obama-backed bill despised by many conservatives. He'll also have to overcome the perception of being a flip-flopper (like supporting abortion rights in his 1994 and 2002 bids for office, but opposing them in his '08 run).

    In the first quarter of 2011, he netted some $1.8 million through his PAC "Free and Strong America."

  • Herman Cain, announced on May 21

    Image: Herman Cain
    Brendan Smialowski  /  Getty Images file
    Talk show host Herman Cain

    Cain, an Atlanta radio host and former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, has support from some Tea Party factions.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the Atlanta radio host.

    An African-American who describes himself as a “citizen’s candidate,” he was the first Republican to form a formal presidential exploratory committee. He officially entered the race in May, telling supporters, "When we wake up and they declare the presidential results, and Herman Cain is in the White House, we'll all be able to say, free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, this nation is free at last, again!"

    Prior to the release of President Obama's long-form birth certificate, Cain rehashed the birther theory, telling a Florida blogger, “I respect people that believe he should prove his citizenship ... He should prove he was born in the United States of America.”

  • Ron Paul, announced on May 13

    Image: Ron Paul
    Cliff Owen  /  AP file
    Rep. Ron Paul

    In 2008, Texas congressman Ron Paul’s libertarian rallying cry — and his opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — did not fall on deaf ears. An idiosyncratic foe of the Federal Reserve and a passionate advocate for limited government, Paul mounted a presidential run that was characterized by bursts of jaw-dropping online fundraising.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the Texas congressman.

    Slideshow: Ron Paul

    He officially launched his 2012 campaign in New Hampshire, saying, ""The revolution is spreading, and the momentum is building ... Our time has come."

    In the first quarter of 2011, raked in some $3 million through his various political organizations.

  • Newt Gingrich, announced on May 11

    Image: Newt Gingrich
    John M. Heller  /  Getty Images file
    Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich

    The former speaker of the House who led the 1994 “Republican Revolution,” Gingrich remains a robust presence on the GOP stage as a prolific writer and political thinker. In recent years, Barack Obama has provided a new target for the blistering critiques Gingrich famously leveled at President Bill Clinton.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the former speaker of the House.

    In early May, he made his 2012 run official. "I have been humbled by all the encouragement you have given me to run," Gingrich wrote on Facebook and Twitter.

    But a month later, the campaign was practically in ruins — with his campaign manager, spokesman, senior strategists all resigning en masse. Most cited issues with the "direction" of the campaign. But Gingrich vowed to press on.

    Slideshow: Newt Gingrich

    Also at issue: Gingrich’s personal life could make winning the support of social conservatives thorny for the twice-divorced former lawmaker. In a damning interview earlier this year, Esquire quoted one of Gingrich’s former wives describing him as a hypocrite who preached the sanctity of marriage while in the midst of conducting an illicit affair.

    Additional obstacles include his recent criticism of Rep. Paul Ryan’s fiscal plan as “right-wing social engineering" and reports of a $500,000 line of credit to Tiffany’s, the luxury jewelry company.

  • Gary Johnson, announced on April 21

    Image:Gary Johnson
    Jim Cole  /  AP
    Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson

    The former New Mexico governor took a big leap in late April, not by announcing an exploratory committee, but by actually announcing his official candidacy. “I’m running for president of the United States,” he told a couple of supporters and cameramen gathered for his announcement outside the New Hampshire State Capitol.

    He's a steadfast libertarian who supports the legalization of marijuana. He vetoed more than 700 pieces of legislation during his two terms as governor.

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