Washington (CNN) - South Dakota Sen. John Thune is mixing it up with fellow potential presidential candidate Mitch Daniels, telling the Christian Broadcasting Network Wednesday that social issues should not be minimized over the course of the Republican presidential primary process.
The comments come in response to Daniels, the Indiana governor and possible White House candidate, who has controversially called for a temporary "truce" on social issues while America deals with its pressing economic problems. Daniels, the former budget director under President Bush, is known for his fiscal conservatism and economic credentials but has spoken little on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.
"I don't think we can minimize those in the debate," Thune said. "For any conservative or any Republican to get elected to office, you have to have the support and hopefully the energetic support of people who care passionately about the social issues."
Thune's comments are part of what appears to be a media blitz by the South Dakota senator as he still deliberates over whether or not to mount a presidential bid. In an interview with the National Review published Tuesday, Thune said he thinks he would match up best against President Obama and said he is still considering a run, despite speculation he is more likely to instead set his sights on increasing his rank among the Senate Republican leadership. The South Dakota Republican has said he will make a final presidential decision by the end of this month.
"With regard to the economic issues, fiscal issues, I think most social conservatives agree that we want a government that's smaller, a government that's responsive and accountable and all that," Thune also said in the CBN interview. "But, we also need to recognize that there are important issues that impact the basic glue, the foundation that holds our country together, and that comes down to the family unit. And we can't ignore those."
Meanwhile, in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference Saturday, a politely-received Daniels repeated his mantra that the next president must focus in on economic concerns above all else:
"In our nation, in our time, the friends of freedom have an assignment, as great as those of the 1860s, or the 1940s, or the long twilight of the Cold War," he said at the annual gathering of conservatives that featured a slew of likely presidential candidates. "I refer, of course, to the debts our nation has amassed for itself over decades of indulgence. It is the new Red Menace, this time consisting of ink."
Daniels has said he will decide on a presidential run later this spring.