Pence stays quiet on social issues

2012-09-02T00:00:00Z 2012-09-22T17:55:41Z Pence stays quiet on social issuesBy Dan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
September 02, 2012 12:00 am  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | When Republicans were on the verge of winning a U.S. House majority in 2010 on a platform of reducing government spending, six-term Congressman Mike Pence insisted the party not abandon its traditional focus on social issues.

"We must not remain silent while great moral battles are being waged," Pence said that year at the Values Voters Summit.

Pence was as good as his word, taking the nation to the edge of a government shutdown in 2011 by insisting the federal government deny Planned Parenthood funding for family planning and women's preventative health services. By law, federal funds cannot be used for abortion.

"We're going to dig in and we're going to fight for the principle that taxpayers should not have to subsidize the largest abortion provider in the country," Pence said on MSNBC.

That Mike Pence -- the warrior for social issues -- seems to have abandoned his great moral battle as he runs for governor of Indiana.

On the campaign trail, from Lake County to the Louisville area, Pence speaks only of employment and education. Even when directly asked what happened to his past unrelenting focus on social issues, Pence returns to those two subjects.

"People know I'm a conservative and I've embraced a conservative viewpoint throughout my public life in various roles, but I think this election is about jobs and schools," Pence said.

For a brief moment in his June speech accepting the Republican nomination for governor, candidate Pence sounded like his old self telling Hoosiers, "Our present crisis is not just economic and political, but moral."

But in the past three months, Pence has released no plans to address Indiana's alleged moral crisis and told reporters in August he was merely speaking of the need to strengthen Hoosier families.

"I am who I am and I hold the views I hold, but if I have the privilege of being governor of the state of Indiana, we're going to make job creation job one," Pence said. "We're going to focus on getting this economy moving again."

Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg said running against Pence makes him feel like a game warden -- "I'm chasing a leopard that's changing his spots."

"You just can't all of a sudden say you're about jobs and disregard your past," Gregg said. "Hoosiers need to see what he's really about."

Gregg's trying to show them.

He recently highlighted Pence's votes against equal pay for women and Planned Parenthood funding in a television ad set in Carol's Clip and Curl Beauty Shop in Gregg's hometown of Sandborn, Ind.  

With three women sitting under hair dryers in the background, the candidate explains women don't want to hear from Pence because they disapprove of his record on women's issues.

"Why has he backed away from it? Is he embarrassed of what he was doing in the past? Because that's all he's done," Gregg said. "Remember, he's not even passed one teensy-weensy little bill."

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