Mitch Daniels toughens talk after tepid Tuesday

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A day after offering a laid-back message on Democratic lawmakers fleeing his state to avoid a vote on union legislation, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels toughened up his talk this morning.

Many conservatives faulted the Indiana governor and 2012 hopeful Tuesday for seeming to encourage Republicans to drop a right-to-work bill Democrats are protesting while offering little in the way of admonishment for lawmakers who fled the state and their duties to avoid the topic. Specifically at issue was whether Daniels had called the fleeing Democrats’ actions a “perfectly legitimate part of the process.”

Daniels clarified his statement in an interview with an Indianapolis Star columnist Matthew Tully Wednesday, calling the actions of fleeing Democrats “totally unacceptable,” and adding that his praise for the process Tuesday was meant for protesters at the state house, not AWOL lawmakers. Tully had written that Daniels’ behavior Tuesday was uncharacteristic, asking “Could someone please page the real Mitch Daniels?”

Daniels said he and the GOP will not kill budget or education measures because Democrats want them to, but Republican Speaker Brian Bosma announced today that the right-to-work bill is dead. AWOL Democrats are still deciding their next move. Democrats cited 11 bills they are concerned about, one of which is Daniels’ voucher bill, but Daniels has said they won’t be getting rid of any more bills.