(CNN) - In what could be an early preview of the 2012 race for the GOP presidential nomination, Mike Huckabee is slamming Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels over his recent comments suggesting the next president should focus exclusively on fiscal problems at the expense of social issues.
"Let me be clear…the issue of life and traditional marriage are not bargaining chips nor are they political issues," the former Arkansas governor and 2008 Republican presidential candidate said in an e-mail to supporters Friday. "They are moral issues. I didn't get involved in politics just to lower taxes and deficit spending though I believe in both and have done it as a Governor. But I want to stay true to the basic premises of our civilization."
Daniels' comments came in an interview with the Weekly Standard, during which the Indiana Republican said the next president "would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues" so he or she could focus on the fiscal problems facing the country.
The comments have riled several prominent social conservatives, including Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, who called them "astonishing."
Daniels, the popular Indiana governor and former OMB head under President George W. Bush, is widely considered to be a potential presidential candidate.
In his e-mail Friday, Huckabee said Daniel's sentiment was "heartbreaking."
"For those of us who have labored long and hard in the fight to educate the Democrats, voters, the media and even some Republicans on the importance of strong families, traditional marriage and life to our society, this is absolutely heartbreaking. And that one of our Republican 'leaders' would suggest this truce, even more so," he wrote.
But Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, another potential 2012 presidential contender, was more tepid in his response to the criticisms, telling CNN's John King, "I wouldn't characterize it the way Mitch did. "
"I would say what makes it about - what makes campaigns about the issues are what are the issues on people's minds. And right now, you're right, it's not the social issues that are on people's minds.," Barbour said in an interview airing Friday on John King, USA.