The ideological gulf between Indiana gubernatorial candidates U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, a Republican, and former state House Speaker John Gregg, a Democrat, widened Tuesday as each appeared with his new running mate.
Moments after introducing running mate Sue Ellspermann at a Fort Wayne campaign stop, Pence highlighted his conservative stance on social issues by praising a lawsuit filed against the Obama administration Monday by several Catholic groups over a mandate requiring some faith-based organizations to cover contraceptives for employees.
“I strongly opposed Obamacare and government mandates associated with it,” Pence told The News-Sentinel. “I applaud the leaders of the Catholic Church for standing up for the religious liberties of all Americans.”
Meanwhile, Gregg announced Tuesday his choice of longtime state Sen. Vi Simpson, an abortion rights supporter and one of the General Assembly's most left-leaning politicians, as his running mate.
Gregg has tried to paint himself as a moderate, no-nonsense Democrat who generally avoids polarizing social issues. But Pence, a conservative Christian, has dived into social issues more than fellow Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels.
Still, Pence on Tuesday described job creation as “job one” for his campaign.
“I'm pro life, I don't apologize for it, but I think this election is about jobs and schools,” he said.
A message left for Gregg's campaign seeking comment was not immediately returned Tuesday.
The Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend sued the federal government Tuesday in one of about a dozen suits filed by Catholic organizations across the country. The University of Notre Dame also took part in the lawsuit.