As ThinkProgress noted, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) defended his state’s Democratic House members Tuesday for fleeing to Illinois in order block passage of an union-busting bill, calling their actions “perfectly legitimate” and even saying, “I salute” them.
But now Daniels has done a complete 180, telling Fox News host Neil Cavuto yesterday afternoon that the lawmakers’ flight was “unacceptable and outrageous and embarrassing.” Cavuto asked Daniels to “clarify” his comments defending the Democrats, and Daniels responded by saying that he was referring to the protesters, not the lawmakers, and that people misunderstood him because he was “not being clear about my pronouns”:
CAVUTO: You know governor, maybe you can clarify some things for me. … Specifically on this issue of Democrats bolting the state. You had said at the time, I believe, “this is a perfectly legitimate part of the process.” Did you say that? Cause it sounds like what you’re saying now is different.
DANIELS: Yeah, well, they can be forgiven. Cause I was a little careless with my words. Most people understood exactly what I meant. What I said was legitimate was the protest by union members and others out in the capitol of our state. I was just simply saying there were within their First Amendment rights. I have always said what the Democrats did, walking off the job, taking taxpayer dollars to a swimming pool in Illinois, was unacceptable and outrageous and embarrassing. But there was one news story in which those two things were confused, and I’ll take the responsibility for not being clear about my pronouns.
It’s hard to believe Daniels when he says that his position has been consistent all along. While not explicitly referring to either the Democratic state House members or the protesters in his remarks to reporters on Tuesday, the full audio of Daniels’ comments make it clear he was speaking of the legislators. He refers to “our friends in the minority,” a clear reference to the legislators, and says the “activities of today” were legitmate — the big news that day was the Democratic walkout. And Daniels adds that he won’t send state police after anyone, a reference to speculation that would use the police to force the lawmakers back. Listen here:
Moreover, Daniels is right when he says “most people understood exactly what I meant” — they just understood the opposite of what he now says he meant. Despite him suggesting there was merely “one news story” characterizing his comments as referring to the Democrats, there were actually dozens, including in his state’s largest papers. Even people friendly to Daniels didn’t “understand” his comments the way Daniels would now like them to, including fellow GOP Gov. John Kasich (OH), along with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, Big Government, Fox News, and conservative columnist Byron York.