John Gregg takes advantage of the LGBT issue

John Gregg
FILE - This Nov. 6, 2012 file photo shows John Gregg, Democratic candidate for Indiana governor, as he concedes to Republican Mike Pence at an election night event in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, file)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The candidates for governor appeared on the same stage Thursday for the first time in the 2016 election cycle.

John Gregg and Mike Pence took turns addressing mayors from around the state in something of a preview of the fall campaign.

The 2016 race for governor is a rematch of the 2012 race between the Democrat Gregg and Pence, Republican incumbent.

Gregg sent the message that, while the names are the same, the race will be very different.

John Gregg got a big welcome from local elected officials who filled a hotel ballroom and he did his best to take advantage of the situation.

When he got a standing ovation he said, “Please, Republicans sit down!”

Gregg lost a close race in 2012 and, without naming him, sent the signal that he intends 2016 to be a referendum on Mike Pence.

“I’m a very pragmatic person. I’m not an ideologue,” he said. “If you want someone who follows a rigid ideology, I’m going to be candid, I’m not your candidate.”

When his turn came, Pence made no mention of Gregg or the campaign, dwelling instead on high points in his record.

“I’m so proud, I’m so proud of the progress that our state’s made over the last 3 years,” he said. “139,000 net new jobs created by businesses large and small.”

And the governor made no mention of LGBT issues, even though Gregg told the audience that his campaign is based on inclusion.

“I know everybody’s thinking that when I say inclusion I mean the LGBT community,” said Gregg, “and I absolutely do. That time is long overdue.”

It was anything but subtle.

Four years ago John Gregg was opposed to gay marriage. His position has changed in the time since.

Mike Pence, of course, is still publicly questioning whether civil rights protections are necessary for the LGBT community.

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