Meeting the press today, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said he needed to clarify what he called confusion over remarks he made Tuesday about budget protests at the state capitol and the decision of Democratic lawmakers to flee the state rather than allow a vote on controversial labor legislation.
"I need to clarify a confusion I personally caused yesterday," Daniels said. "Yesterday I began extemporaneous comments by saying that the activities of the last two days -- and I think I gestured to the atrium -- were entirely appropriate. I was talking about the protestors and those who came to express their views and the strength of those views. They are welcome here, today and every day. What they've done is completely appropriate. It was not to condone the activities of the House Democratic caucus, which is completely unacceptable of course. Rereading my own comments, I could see how they could have been misconstrued and a couple of people did. So just for those of you who did misunderstand, my bad, but I don’t want any question left. Huge distinction between people exercising their first amendment rights and people who take a public paycheck, walk off the job, go to another state, and try to wreck the democratic process."
In those remarks Tuesday, Daniels said, "The activities of [Tuesday] are a perfectly legitimate part of the process. Even the smallest minority, and that's what we've heard from in the last couple days, has every right to express the strength of its views and I salute those who did." Daniels did not appear to distinguish between the protesters and the fleeing Democrats, and some critics among Republicans were dismayed that he seemed untroubled by the Democrats' flight. Today, Daniels wanted to make sure listeners understood what he meant.
"The House Democrats have shown a complete contempt for the democratic process," he said. "The way that works -- as we all learned in grade school -- is that if you seek public office you come do your duty, you argue, you debate, you amend if you can, you vote “no” if you feel you should. If you are not successful, you go home and take your case to the voters. You don’t walk off the job, take your public paycheck with you, and attempt to bring the whole process to a screeching halt. You know if they persist, the Democratic Party of Indiana will need a rebranding effort because this is as anti-democratic as behavior can be."
Still, despite actions he called "unconscionable," Daniels said Democrats can repair the damage. "All that said, I think they deserve another chance, let the heat of the moment cool I hope. Maybe if their leadership doesn’t have a conscience about the unconscionable things they’ve done, maybe individuals members do. But I do hope that having made their point; scoring one victory on the big issue, they will decide to come back to work. Let’s do the people’s business, together. I can tell you that I don’t know what will happen; I don’t know how we’ll proceed. I can tell you what won’t happen, we will not be bullied or blackmailed out of pursuing the agenda we laid in front of the people of Indiana, that agenda is going to get voted on. If we take special sessions from now to New Years, we will hold them and we wills send the bill to Leader Bauer and to the Democratic party of Indiana."
"I see no reasons for that to be necessary, they can come back and I hope they will, tomorrow. We can just get on with business and that is what I would appeal to them to do. I hope as a whole group, if not then maybe perhaps, individuals in the caucus who have gone along because that is what good caucus members do but may decide their conscience tells them they should do their duty instead."