Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, still weighing the possibility of a presidential bid, said today that he "salutes" Democrats who fled Indiana to prevent a vote on a controversial labor bill. A Daniels aide says the governor's words did not accurately reflect what Daniels meant to say.
Daniels made the statement during a press availability at the governor's office. The day had been a tumultuous one, with protesters coming to Indianapolis and Democratic lawmakers fleeing to Illinois, all over right-to-work legislation, which Daniels opposes. "The activities of today are a perfectly legitimate part of the process," Daniels told reporters. "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 added that he would not send Indiana state troopers to find the fleeing Democrats. "I trust that the people's consciences will bring them back to work," Daniels said. "I choose to believe that they'll come back and do the job that they're paid to do."
Daniels' remarks are particularly noteworthy because Democratic state senators in Wisconsin have also fled their state to stop the legislative process on Republican Gov. Scott Walker's budget bill. Although opinion is divided on the merits of the issue, which involves collective bargaining for public employee unions, there has been widespread criticism of the Wisconsin lawmakers for fleeing the state.
Asked about Daniels' comments, the governor's aide said Daniels was "saluting" only those who had come to the state capitol, not those who left it. "He was saluting the protesters who came up and peacefully and loudly expressed their point of view," the aide says. "The language that was used probably wasn't as clear as it could have been in the context of what was going on."
Asked whether Daniels views fleeing the state to stop a vote as legitimate legislative activity, the aide answered, "People have walked out before. Leaving the state is kind of an extreme action…but we've had walkouts in the legislature before, and it is part of the process."Daniel's 'salutes' Dem lawmakers who fled IN labor vote
To hear Daniels' remarks to reporters, go here.