Social Conservatives Criticize CPAC For Inviting Mitch Daniels

Social conservatives are upset with CPAC again. This time, it's because the conference they're not attending has invited someone they don't like.

The ongoing war within the conservative movement over CPAC took a new turn when the same social conservatives who are boycotting the conference because a gay group will be there are criticizing CPAC for inviting Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels:

A growing number of outfits are planning to boycott this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, the annual gathering of right-leaning activists in Washington known as CPAC, in part because organizers are welcoming a pro-gay Republican group into the fold.

And one of the groups pushing the CPAC boycott, the American Principles Project, took fresh aim at the conference Tuesday for inviting Indiana Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, who angered many social conservatives last year by calling for a “truce” on social issues while the country works through its economic problems.

“Governor Daniels’ selection is an affront to the millions of conservatives who believe that social issues such as abortion and traditional marriage are non-negotiable,” APP’s executive director Andy Blom said in a statement.

Blom told CNN he sees Daniels having a difficult time winning the GOP nomination, or the general election, without the help of social conservatives.

“He has flown his white flag and he has surrendered,” Blom said. “The foot soldiers in the conservative movement have for so long been pro-lifers. You can’t win a national election by throwing these people away. We aren’t going to stand for it.”

My first thought on reading this was why APP is complaining about Daniels being invited when they aren’t going to be there anyway. That’s kind of like complaining that they served chocolate cake at the birthday party you decided not to go to.

Second, though, is that it makes clear that this war over CPAC has almost isn’t just about GOProud specifically, and everything to do with the ongoing war between social and fiscal conservatives that started almost immediately after the 2010 elections were concluded. At that time, GOProud and a coalition of Tea Party groups reminded the incoming Republicans that they need to stick with the fiscal agenda that brought them into office, and not let themselves get distracted by divisive social issues that are likely to tear apart the coalition that put them in office. Social conservatives fired back then, and this skirmish over CPAC is the latest venue for that battle. Add into that the fact that CPAC once again invited a group that puts the lie to the SoCon prejudices toward gay people, and the boycott was inevitable.

Finally, this assertion that Daniels is “surrendering” on social issues is just ridiculous. His initial statement was clearly all about prioritizing the GOP’s focus on fiscal and economic issues because of the serious issues facing the country in those areas. I doubt that Daniels has changed his mind on issues like abortion, he’s merely saying that the GOP shouldn’t waste time on issues like that, where no real consensus exists, and should instead focus on fixing the economy, getting Federal spending under control, and getting government out of the way so that businesses can innovate, hire, and retool. That strikes me as both smart politics, and exactly what the country needs right now. If groups like APP don’t like it, that just establishes how irrelevant they are.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. An Interested Party says:

    No gays, no Mitch Daniels…there’s just no pleasing some people…poor social conservatives…where/who are they going to turn to…

  2. Terrye says:

    I live in Indiana and everyone in this state knows that Daniels is a social conservative. He is pro life, he does not support gay marriage..but he also thinks that the number one job of government right now is to get the fiscal situation under control. That has nothing to do with surrendering, it is prioritizing.

  3. steve says:

    If your issues are always prioritized away, do they really matter?


  4. Franklin says:

    If your issues are always prioritized away, do they really matter?

    Who said always? If you haven’t read the news in the last couple years, we’ve experienced something called a recession. Budget deficits are climbing, and there’s all sorts of turmoil in the financial sector. When this is taken care of, you’re free to go back to your gay-bashing.

  5. Michael says:

    Who said always?

    History, mostly.

  6. An Interested Party says:

    God’s laws are God’s laws, whether there is a recession or not, no?

  7. george says:

    If you’re having a party and I’m not coming, then you better not be having fun …

    Yeah, this is just silly. If you’re boycotting something then what goes on there no longer has anything to do with you.