Color me extremely disappointed with Indiana governor Mitch Daniels right now:
Gov. Mitch Daniels signaled this afternoon that Republicans should to drop the right-to-work bill that has brought the Indiana House to a standstill for two days and imperiled other measures.
Daniels told reporters this afternoon that he expects House Democrats will return to work if the bill dies. It would be unfortunate if other bills are caught up in the turmoil, he said.
He will not send out state police to corral the Democrats, the Republican governor said. The Democrat minority has right to express its views, he added.
The governor clung to his view that this is not the year to tackle right to work.
If the Indiana House Democrats get what they want through this tactic, what’s to prevent them from using it again and again every time they think they’ll lose on a big issue?
I had been open-minded about Daniels’ “truce” talk — no matter how much a Republican presidential candidate talks about the importance of social issues, 75 to 90 percent of the president’s time from January 2013 to 2017 will be spent on economic and fiscal crises and managing a dangerous and rapidly changing world. But a concession to Democrats on major reforms like these will spur a lot of talk about Daniels’s toughness, or whether he’s too conciliatory to an opposition that has gone completely off the rails, or more accurately, out of the state. . . .
UPDATE: Fairly or not, many readers are interpreting this news as a sign that A) Mitch Daniels doesn’t want to run for president or B) he isn’t running for president.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Gov. Daniels’s office writes in with audio of his statement today; they believe his remarks are being mischaracterized. Audio here.
DANIELS: Just a couple of quick comments and that’s really all I’ll make. First of all, just to affirm, the activities of today are perfectly legitimate part of the process. Even the smallest minority — and that’s what we’ve heard from the last couple days — has every right to express the strength of its views and I salute those who do. Just to be equally plain, I’m not sending the state police after anybody. I’m not going to divert a single trooper from their job of protecting the Indiana public. I trust that people’s consciences will bring them back to work and I choose to believe that our friends in the minority will, having made their point, will come back and do their duty and the jobs they are paid to do.
DANIELS: My view on this is well known to the leadership on both sides, well-known to the public. I haven’t changed a single thing. I don’t attempt to dictate the agenda. I’m not in position to, really, of a separate and free-standing superior branch of government. And for that matter, Speaker [Bosma] can’t always dictate to his members when they have a strong point of view. For reasons I’ve explained more than once, I think there was a better time and place to have this very important and legitimate issue raised.
He knows what I think, the Speaker knows what I think.
That would be very unfortunate. These folks are paid by the taxpayers to do the people’s work. I choose to believe that they’ll come back and do the jobs they’re paid to do. There may be some places in this country where public employees, public servants walk off the job, but I don’t think Indiana is one of them.
My understanding is they’ll do anything I ask them to do. (laughter) The first time the question came up, I just said, ‘it is not in the cards.’ Indiana State Police have a job to do, protecting the people of Indiana, and they shouldn’t be and won’t be diverted from that. Again, I trust the consciences of the people involved to get them back to work.