Pence bashes ‘Obamacare,’ Washington in Indiana governor campaign launch

Indiana Rep. Mike Pence (R) formally launched his campaign for governor Saturday with a strong dose of scorn for Washington, D.C. and a pledge to keep his state “on the path of fiscal responsibility and reform.”

The conservative six-term congressman is running to replace the term-limited Gov. Mitch Daniels (R). 

Pence said as governor he would build on what he called successful fiscal and other reforms under the incumbent, while noting that the state still suffers from unemployment over eight percent and other woes.

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“We gotta keep Indiana growing, but that won’t happen without a fight,” Pence said, according to remarks prepared for his campaign launch at a rally in Columbus, Indiana.

“Right now, Hoosiers are faced with an avalanche of unfunded mandates, regulations and taxes that threaten our freedom and stifle our growth,” Pence said.

He later added:

“As your governor, I’ll fight for the freedom of every Hoosier to live, to work, to run our schools without unnecessary federal intrusion and Indiana will lead the fight against cap and trade and ObamaCare.”

Pence noted his opposition to the No Child Left Behind Law, deriding “bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. telling us how to run our local schools,” while broadly pledging education policies to cut federal “red tape” and “empower” parents and teachers, and expand charter schools.

On the economy, he said “The best stimulus plan is simple: less taxes, less red tape and more fiscal responsibility equals more jobs.”

On social issues, Pence obliquely attacked gay marriage and noted his anti-choice position on abortion.

“To restore our economy we must reaffirm our respect for the institutions and traditions that nurture the character of our people: the sanctity of life, traditional marriage and the importance of organized religion in everyday life,” he said.

The speech – which was longer on anecdotes and personal history than policy specifics – drew a quick rebuke from the state’s Democrats.

Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker said Pence “has spent the last decade pandering to the extreme wing of his party.”

“Perhaps Congressman Pence will go back to Washington and think carefully before he votes to cut Medicare or grandstands on divisive social issues instead of focusing on economic development and job creation,” he said in a statement.