Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), a potential 2012 presidential candidate, said this weekend he has no regrets about expressing his desire for a "truce" on social issues during the next presidency.
Daniels, a noted fiscal hawk, reiterated that social issues are of secondary concern to the country, behind the economy and national security. He first made his comments in June in a profile in the conservative Weekly Standard.
"No," Daniels told the Indianapolis Star in an interview when asked if he has changed his mind. "I say that with enormous respect for the people who want to see gay marriage legalized or who have a strong view on some other such question and want to see 'Don't ask, don't tell' go away."
The Indiana governor took flak from some social-conservative groups, and some observers predicted that his comments could hurt him if he decides to run for president.
But Daniels said those people might think differently if an enemy army threatened to invade the U.S.
"If there were a foreign army massed at our border right now, I think most Americans would rush to do what they could to help defend the country and they'd find themselves figuratively in the trench next to people that are very different from them and that held different views," he explained. "If the threat were defeated, we might go right back to our disagreements. That's all I'm saying."
Daniels — who served as budget director under President George W. Bush — has said he will not decide to enter the race until April and recently said that other potential candidates' stance on the national debt could sway his decision.
He said that, although he wished for an end to the conflict over social issues, he respects people who disagree with him.
"Believe me, I completely respect, in fact I share the depth of feeling on some of these questions with some people," he said. "I'm just looking at, Shouldn't we save America first, while there's time?"