The Republican field for 2012 is already crowded. And this morning, there's another name to consider: Indiana Rep. Mike Pence.
He won a presidential straw poll at the values voter summit this weekend - a meeting that raised some questions about the marriage of the Tea Party and traditional Christian conservatives. But what is on everyone's mind this morning is Christine O’Donnell.
Pence spoke to John Roberts and Candy Crowley on CNN's "American Morning" about those pressing GOP issues.
Crowley: Congressman, a question about Christine O’Donnell and all, the Republican choice for Senate out of Delaware. I'm sure you know that a new clip has come to the forefront showing her saying, well, she dabbled in witchcraft during high school. She's kind of pushed back and said, listen, who of us didn't hang around with questionable people in high school? But there have been other things about student loans and how she makes a living. Do you have any misgivings about O'Donnell as a candidate?
Pence: Oh, gosh. Look, you know, it's really something when Bill Maher becomes the vanguard of religion in America, isn't it? Welcome to the silly season. Look, you know, you ask me about last weekend and, you know, I don't think it was about me.
I don't think Delaware's about Christine O'Donnell. I don't think Alaska's about Joe Miller as much as the message. And I know there'll be this nitpicking and attempts to take things out of context. Certainly she has some explaining to do about that to her voters in Delaware.
But at the end of the day, what's bringing people out and creating a momentum for what could be real change in America is that the American people are tired of the borrowing, the spending, the bailouts and the takeovers, and they're looking for men and women that are willing to stand up and be counted and take on the establishment.
Roberts: Congressman, you said that Bill Maher is now the vanguard in the silly season. Obviously, he's having fun with this, he's a comedian. But other establishment Republicans have rung in on this, too. Karl Rove yesterday was very critical of Christine O'Donnell, saying she's talked about a lot of "nutty things," calling her background "checkered."
And there are serious questions raised about Miss O'Donnell's background, character, statements and previous actions. You said she needs to answer to the voters of Delaware. But do you have any questions? Or are you fully comfortable with everything you know about her?
Pence: Well, look, I don't vote in Delaware. Christine O’Donnell, I think –
Roberts: But at some point, you might have to work with her.
Pence: John, I think she was right yesterday to focus on communicating with her voters in Delaware about what she said on that. And, you know, I think over - again, I think we're in the silly season here. I think we're going to continue to see efforts - whether it's in Florida or in Alaska or in Nevada or in Delaware, or here in Michigan - where we got people like Tim Walberg, a strong conservative fighting to return to Congress from Battle Creek.
Look, you're going to see an effort, I think, by the left in this country to change the subject, to personalities away from the subject of the message, which is we've got to get this economy moving again. We've got to get spending under control, and that will require sending people to Washington, D.C., that have the courage to stand up to the status quo and to put our fiscal house in order.
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