Mitch Daniels, While Hard On Obama, Stresses Compromise At CPAC : It's All Politics The two-term Indiana governor lived up to his low-key reputation, with a speech that spoke of the need to reach out to independents and to compromise.
NPR logo Mitch Daniels, While Hard On Obama, Stresses Compromise At CPAC

Mitch Daniels, While Hard On Obama, Stresses Compromise At CPAC

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington on Friday. Jose Luis Magana/AP hide caption

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Jose Luis Magana/AP

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington on Friday.

Jose Luis Magana/AP

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels joked that when he was asked to be the speaker at the CPAC's gala Ronald Reagan Centennial Dinner on Friday evening in Washington, his reaction was "the same as it always is: 'Who canceled?'"

The two-term governor lived up to his low-key reputation, with a speech that, while very critical of the Obama administration, also spoke of the need to reach out to independents and to compromise.

Addressing President Obama's recent call to review government regulations and streamline those that are unnecessarily burdensome, Daniels said, "Today's EPA should be renamed the 'Employment Prevention Agency.'" He added: "After a two-year orgy of new regulation, President Obama's recent executive order was a wonderment, as though the No. 1 producer of rap music had suddenly expressed alarm about obscenity."

But later in the speech, Daniels spoke words that must have seemed near sacrilege to this very conservative crowd of activists. He said conservatives need to lead, but they can't do it alone. He said big change requires big majorities, adding, "We will need people who never tune in to Rush (Limbaugh) or Glenn (Beck) or Laura (Ingraham) or Sean (Hannity)." A first name only was enough for this crowd to know who Daniels was talking about.

Finally, on compromise, Daniels said that, should the best way forward be blocked, "then someone will need to find the second best way. Or the third, because the nation's survival requires it." And while he didn't mention the Tea Party movement, which has warned new GOP lawmakers not to compromise lest they pay a price at the ballot box, Daniels added the line: "Purity in martyrdom is for suicide bombers."

One more note: At the start of Friday night's CPAC dinner, entertainer Pat Boone, now 76 years old, was presented the CPAC Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is not handed out every year — only when there is a worthy candidate, according to the American Conservative Union.