Ultra-conservative voters have been suspicious of Jeb Bush, who hasn't been loud and proud enough on their key issues. But on Monday, the former Florida governor and dynastic candidate threw them a juicy bone when he—like other Republican 2016 hopefuls—defended Indiana's new license-to-discriminate law
“I think Governor Pence has done the right thing,” said Mr. Bush, who is expected to run for president in 2016. “I think once the facts are established, people aren’t going to see this as discriminatory at all.” [...]
“There are many cases where people acting on their conscience have been castigated by the government,” Mr. Bush said. “This is really an important value for our country, in a diverse country,where you can be tolerant of people’s lifestyles but allow people of faith to exercise theirs.”
How dare the government castigate people for discrimination! Let's tolerate people's lifestyles while allowing people of faith to exercise it by discriminating against people with, you know, "lifestyles." And of course, remember that we're not talking about people in their private lives, we're talking about businesses. This isn't about whether you have to have the gay neighbors over for dinner in your home, it's about whether a restaurant or store is allowed to refuse to serve people because the owner is a bigot. Jeb Bush's answer is yes.
Sen. Marco Rubio's answer is ... confused on the concept:
"Nobody is saying that it should be legal to deny someone service at a restaurant or at a hotel because of their sexual orientation. I think that's a consensus view in America," Rubio said on Fox News Monday. "The flip side is, should a photographer be punished for refusing to do a wedding that their faith teaches them is not one that is valid in the eyes of God?"
It seems that Rubio thinks some businesses—photographers, anyway—should be allowed to discriminate, but not restaurants or hotels. Except that Indiana's law doesn't have
some big "except restaurants and hotels" carve-out, so what Rubio is saying doesn't work as a response to this particular law. But what does that matter when you're a presidential candidate trying to have it both ways?
Not bothering to try to have it both ways are, predictably, candidates like Ted Cruz:
“Governor Pence is holding the line to protect religious liberty in the Hoosier State,” Mr. Cruz said. “Indiana is giving voice to millions of courageous conservatives across this country who are deeply concerned about the ongoing attacks upon our personal liberties.”
Predictably, other potential candidates
like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Sen. Rick Santorum, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson were firmly on Team Okay-to-Discriminate. And Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker continued to be vague yet far-right in his issues positions, sending a spokesperson out to say that "As a matter of principle, Gov. Walker believes in broad religious freedom and the right for Americans to exercise their religion and act on their conscience" without quite directly addressing the Indiana law.