What is the agenda for rightward marching GOP?
By Brian Howey
FORT WAYNE, IN - Once again, Republican U.S. Senate nominee Richard Mourdock appeared with a fellow Republican who vouched for the candidate as being from the "mainstream" of the Indiana Republican Party.
Last week, it was U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman. “He has never been an extremist," Stutzman said. "He is a mainstream conservative Republican. He was a conservative Republican before the Tea Party was even around, and he was Tea Party before it was even cool."
The day after Mourdock's stunning 61-39% win over U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar, he appeared with Gov. Mitch Daniels, Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman and the rest of GOP Statehouse officials. Daniels described Mourdock as coming "right from the heart of the party."
On June 1, U.S. Sen. Dan Coats compared himself to Mourdock saying, “'Cause Richard and I come from the same place.”
The notion of Mourdock as a radical Republican stemmed not only from his own rhetoric before Tea Party groups - much of it caught on video by Democratic trackers - but from the Lugar campaign and allies during a bitterly fought primary. Lugar said in a statement on Election Night that while he hoped his Senate seat would remain in GOP hands, he called on Mourdock to "revise his stated goal of bringing more partisanship to Washington. He and I share many positions, but his embrace of an unrelenting partisan mindset is irreconcilable with my philosophy of governance and my experience of what brings results for Hoosiers in the Senate."
But what is becoming increasingly clear - particularly after the Indiana Republican Convention on June 9 - is that the Indiana Republican party "mainstream" is on a rightward path of its own.
The prevalent view for now is to "end the fed" as Republican convention delegates chanted as the party platform was amended to call for an audit of the Federal Reserve; to reject bipartisanship and compromise as Mourdock has repeatedly said; to reject raising the federal debt ceiling, putting the U.S. government in default as Mourdock advocated in August 2011; to declare President Obama as a "socialist" (never mind that the President actually jumped in bed with Big Pharma as Obamacare was being hammered out, as opposed to the initiation state control over the means of production); to question the 17th Amendment for the direct election of U.S. senators; and to call for an end to the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Education and the EPA.
Some of the Mourdock positions, however, have been exposed as more akin to the Tea Party. He has been an ardent opponent of the DREAM Act, which would allow children of illegal immigrants to stay in the country. On Friday, President Obama issued an executive order - essentially bypassing Congress - that would allow illegal immigrants under age 30 who were brought to the U.S. before the age of 16 to stay in the U.S.A.
Bloomberg News Poll shows that 64% of likely voters approve the new policy and 30% disagree. But 86% of Democrats and 56% of Republicans support the order. Among independent voters, 66% favor the order.
In an April 30/May 1 Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground Poll, Republican respondents were asked: “Do you support or oppose allowing the children of illegal immigrants who graduate from high school and have no criminal record and serve in the U.S. military or attend college a path of full U.S. citizenship.” The survey said 54% supported and 32% opposed.
The Democratic gubernatorial ticket of John Gregg and Vi Simpson are attempting to paint Republican nominee Mike Pence with the same brush. At the Indiana Democratic Convention on Saturday, Democrats hammered away at the “extreme” and “radical” Indiana GOP.
“Congressman Pence is allowed to have his extreme positions, but I wonder why he has gotten so quiet about them all of a sudden,” Gregg said. “Now that he is running for governor, he is trying to reinvent himself on the run. I’ll tell you why. It’s because even Congressman Pence knows that his brand of extremism is out of touch with Hoosier families.”
Pence had been the architect of defunding Planned Parenthood in Congress, a move that also happened in 2011 in the Indiana General Assembly. Even Pence advocates such as Indiana Right to Life Executive Director Mike Fichter use similar verbiage. In a web video to promote a book, Fichter calls for the need of “extreme leadership” in the war against abortion. Fichter has called on the Indiana General Assembly to outlaw chemical abortions in 2013.
Pence has confined almost all of his policy stances to jobs and the economy. “This campaign is about jobs and education,” said campaign spokeswoman Christy Denault. “The issues we’re campaigning on are the same issues you’re going to see appear in the governing agenda that we’re going to lay out in the coming weeks.”
But at his 2011 campaign kickoff in Columbus and in his Republican Convention acceptance speech, Pence said issues confronting Indiana are two-pronged: “To build an even better Indiana, we must recognize every day that our present crisis is not just economic, but moral.”
So what is the agenda on the moral front? Pence is mum, at least for now. But Hoosier voters need to hear that part of the plan before the election.