Gov. Mitch Daniels, R-Ind.

A political “truce on social issues” proposed by a possible 2012 presidential candidate, Indiana’s Republican Governor Mitch Daniels, has sparked immediate backlash from many conservatives, notably former GOP Oval Office–seeker, Mike Huckabee.

“The issue[s] of life and traditional marriage are not bargaining chips nor are they political issues. They are moral issues,” Huckabee writes in an entry on his Huck PAC blog. “This is absolutely heartbreaking.”

Daniels told The Weekly Standard in an extensive profile piece that the next president, whoever he or she may be, “would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues” in order to focus more intensively on the nation’s economic woes.

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“We’re going to just have to agree to get along for a little while,” he said.

In the same article, Curt Smith of the Indiana Family Institute praised Daniels, saying, “He has a deep faith, he’s totally pro-life, and he walks the talk,” and told Senior Editor Andrew Ferguson that Daniels “might get away with a truce for a year or two.”

Despite the economy and regardless of Daniels’ track record, however, Huckabee is leading a chorus of critics who won’t concede to putting abortion and traditional marriage on the back burner.

“Can you let the tragedy of abortion go unchecked while we get our financial house in order? I cannot,” Huckabee writes. “Governor Daniels is a personal friend and a terrific governor, and I’m very disappointed that he would think that pro-life and pro-family activists would just lie down.”

Another Weekly Standard editor, John McCormack, confronted Daniels earlier this week on what the governor meant by a “truce,” specifically addressing taxpayer funding of abortion in Obamacare and the Mexico City Policy, which banned federal funds to overseas groups that perform abortions until Obama revoked the policy in his first week in office.

McCormack reports Daniels said the nation is facing a “genuine national emergency” regarding the budget and that “maybe these things could be set aside for a while. But this doesn’t mean anybody abandons their position at all. Everybody just stands down for a little while, while we try to save the republic.”

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, has joined in criticism of the truce, a proposal he calls “astonishing” and a “surprising departure from [Daniels’] pro-family record.”

“These aren’t fringe issues that stretch moderate America. They’re mainstream ideals that an overwhelming majority of the nation espouses,” Perkins said in a statement. “I support the governor 100 percent on the call for fiscal responsibility, but nothing is more fiscally responsible than ending the taxpayer funding of abortion and abortion promotion. More than 70 percent of our nation agrees that killing innocent unborn children with federal dollars is wrong. Yet stopping government-funded murder isn’t a ‘genuine national emergency?'”

Daniels has actually established a long track record of pro-life work, signing into law in Indiana legislation that permits women to see an ultrasound of their unborn children prior to undergoing abortions, the establishment of an umbilical-cord-blood bank as an alternative source of stem cells to human embryos, stronger inspection requirements for abortion clinics and a bill banning human cloning. His administration also approved a state “Choose Life” license plate that supports pro-life pregnancy crisis centers.

To some, however, the sin of a truce on moral issues cannot be absolved by past deeds.

“When it involves life, no one can make a truce,” Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, told “There is no room for gray area, no time to play dead, and no time to stick our head in the sand. When you realize that 1.3 million babies are aborted every year, Governor Mitch Daniels’ words show a level of cowardice that is not expected from a presidential hopeful.”

Daniels has not officially declared interest in seeking the presidency in 2012, but neither has he slammed the door on the idea, saying only that though he “doesn’t want to run,” he might be compelled to consider it.

Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, however, has said declaring a truce on social issues could likely snuff out any presidential aspirations.

“Something like this will cost him any consideration from one of the key constituencies of the Republican Party,” Ruse told

Ramesh Ponnuru, a senior editor of National Review, sees another practical problem with Daniels’ truce proposal:

“Truces are usually popular, and most people see the economic issues as more important than the social ones at this moment,” Ponnuru writes. “But I’m not sure how a truce would work. If Justice Kennedy retired on President Daniels’ watch, for example, he would have to pick someone as a replacement. End of truce.”

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