Mitch Daniels of Indiana Mulls 2012 Run

I've noted this before but I believe that Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana will run and that he will make a formidable candidate. The Washington Post has the skinny on the latest Daniels watch:

Two months ago, in an interview in his state capitol office, Daniels said explicitly he was not interested in running for president and dismissed speculation that he might be a candidate. That has now changed. During an interview at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association here over the weekend, Daniels said he has now been persuaded to keep open the door to a possible candidacy.

Daniels said he has had a number of conversations in recent months -- "none initiated by me" -- where the question of a 2012 campaign came up. "Just to get them off my back, I agreed to a number of people that I will now stay open to the idea," he said.

Among the people he has talked with is former president George W. Bush, though Daniels said it was not that conversation per se that tipped him to reopen a door he had seemingly closed.

Daniels served as Bush's director of the Office of Management and Budget before returning to Indiana to run for office and was White House political director under former president Ronald Reagan. He won a landslide reelection victory in 2008 at the same time that President Obama was carrying Indiana in the presidential race.

Early in his tenure as governor, Daniels angered conservatives when he proposed raising taxes to help balance the state budget. Since then, however, he has become a favorite of fiscal hawks for the way he has run his state. Though conservative on social issues, Daniels has not made them a focal point of his political agenda.

In the aftermath of the party's defeats in 2006 and 2008, Daniels was critical of the Republican Party for having abandoned its principles. He warned that Republicans would have to "spend time in the penalty box" and earn back the public's trust before they would be returned to power. He also warned against complacency in the battle for ideas.

Of the names being bantered about as possible GOP nominees, this one and Jon Huntsman of Utah are the ones that I perceive as the ones that could give the President the toughest races. With Huntsman ensconced in Beijing, he is not likely a candidate in 2012. There are those who think Senator John Thune of South Dakota might make a strong candidate but I suspect that being a Washington player will work against him. Thus really the stronger contenders for the GOP nomination are likely to come from the Governor's mansions: Mitt Romney of Massachusetts (though he is now living in La Jolla, California), Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Gary Johnson of New Mexico, and Mitch Daniels of Indiana. Of these four, I'd argue that Daniels is likely to have the greatest appeal to independents. More from the Post:

Daniels acknowledged that the solutions to the problems of debt and deficits could involve sacrifices that would make the messenger unpopular. He admitted that making those problems the focal point of a Republican campaign could impede a potential comeback by the party. But he said he has become convinced that the issues will have to be raised in any case.

Despite the on-going war in Afghanistan, the 2012 election is likely to pivot on domestic issues primarily jobs and the deficit. The fact that Daniels is willing to assume the risk of being "an unpopular messenger" I think differentiates him from the rest of the GOP pack and will win him a wider base of support among moderate Republicans and independents. Gary Johnson is another who is willing to tackle an "unpopular" topics offering a differentiated view but I'm not convinced that a libertarian candidate is capable of winning outside the West.

Tags: Governor Mitch Daniels, Gary Johnson, Senator John Thune, GOP 2012 (all tags)

Comments

9 Comments

Obama will be hard to beat

All the Republicans who seem to think otherwise are believing their own hype about what a right wing country this is. Republicans have no platform. They can't hide that in a two year campaign for president.

by Lolis 2010-02-23 12:11AM | 0 recs
...

I think Daniels will be the Romney of 2012... He'll have a respectable showing but Romney will ultimately get the nomination... The GOP just seems to work like that... they seem to nominate whose ever turn it is...

Dole and Bush were the front runners in 1988... Bush won, so Dole became the guy in 1996.   W and McCain ran in 2000 and W won, so McCain became the guy in 2008, after Romney and McCain squared off.

Daniels will probably lose, but will be the front runner in 2016.   A Daniels/Huntsman ticket would be scary....  especially since I'm not seeing a lot of rock stars or natural nominees on our bench right now... all the ones that come to mind will be pretty up there in age in 2016....   

by FUJA 2010-02-23 12:21AM | 0 recs
...

I think Daniels will be the Romney of 2012... He'll have a respectable showing but Romney will ultimately get the nomination... The GOP just seems to work like that... they seem to nominate whose ever turn it is...

Dole and Bush were the front runners in 1988... Bush won, so Dole became the guy in 1996.   W and McCain ran in 2000 and W won, so McCain became the guy in 2008, after Romney and McCain squared off.

Daniels will probably lose, but will be the front runner in 2016.   A Daniels/Huntsman ticket would be scary....  especially since I'm not seeing a lot of rock stars or natural nominees on our bench right now... all the ones that come to mind will be pretty up there in age in 2016....   

by FUJA 2010-02-23 12:21AM | 0 recs
Being an unpopular messenger:

He should ask Walter Mondale how that turned out.

If the issue of 2012 (which is a political eternity away) is domestic issues, it would be quit the dance on the head of a pin for the GOP to seize the high ground.

I commend Charles for the independent investigation outside the punditocracy into potential challengers to Obama. Tone can be difficult to convey on the Internet, but I can't help but sense an undercurrent of concern about Obama's reelection potential field in your post.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-23 12:42AM | 0 recs
RE: Being an unpopular messenger:

Yeah, that was my thought as well.  Maybe I'm influenced too much by Reagan, but it seems like you win elections by being optimistic and telling people they can have something for nothing, not by looking serious and talking about how everyone will have to tighten their belt.

It's telling that Republicans always have to sell the idea of tax cuts with their Laffer curve mumbo-jumbo.  It's not enough to tell people they'll get to keep more of their money, if it means they'll get less in government services.  You have to tell people they'll have more money AND the government will have even more revenues to do stuff with.

Honestly I felt the reeelection of George W. Bush signaled the end of accountability in this country.  Come what may, but I don't want to live in a world where Bush gets reelected and someone like Obama doesn't.

by Steve M 2010-02-23 10:03PM | 0 recs
Formidable indeed

I have to agree Daniels will be formidable, largely because of his appeal to indies. However one dosn't win a GOP primary by appealing to indies, so it will be interesting to see what other GOP hopefuls come up with to tear him down and how he responds.

Aftreall Gulliani looked quite formidable in 2005, largely because of his more moderate image. But then he kept moving to the right till he fell off the cliff so to speak.

by vecky 2010-02-23 01:52AM | 1 recs
Good points

My concern would be for the Scott Brown candidate; physically attractive, with a sparse record and a charisma that allowed dual appeal to conservatives and independents.

Your point is correct, that in an era where the GOP base has pulled so far to the right, I find it difficult to imagine how a candidate capable of appealing to Independents would win a protracted pre-primary battle. These days, the 2012 GOP nomination will begin immediately after the midterms later this very year. It will be difficult for any candidate, over such a long period of time, to balance Independent appeal and teabaggery in states like Iowa and New Hampshire in this polarized political climate. Logic would thus point to a far right candidate coming out of the initial primaries.

Moreover, as you also note, the GOP is the imperious party, where backroom machinations still crown frontrunners despite elections. Again, logic would point to Romney, as you note, but he has little to no appeal amongst the teabaggers and R0N P4UL crowd. Could a teabagger candidate buck the years of GOP taking turns? Will conservative media outlets like FAUX tow that party line of coronation rather than nomination?

Finally, the GOP system is winner take all on a state delegate basis. The system does not allow comebacks and changes of heart like the democratic system, nor does it encourage a months long national debate on who our nominee should be, engaging tens of millions of voters in the process. Hillary could have conceivably made a comeback even after South Carolina in a GOP style winner take all system, but the GOP primary will be pretty much settled again in IA, NH, NV, and SC. I think NH has an open primary. Can the primary be punked? What about the schedule changes to the GOP primary? Will that affect chances.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-23 02:45AM | 0 recs
RE: Formidable indeed

If the unemployment rate is around 7% or below 7% by August 2012, Obama will win and if it is over 8.5% Obama is history...no matter who runs! This debate reminds me of 1978..believe me, I am that old! Almost everyone said that George Bush Sr. and Howard Baker had the best chance of winning against Carter, and that Reagan had no chance, as he was considered too racist and right wing! Indeed, a poll released on Feburary 4, 1980 put Carter at 58% and Reagan at 36%..a 22 point lead. We all know what happened exactly nine months later! This brings me to the final point. Polls today are meaningless especially coming from the likes of Rasmussen who is trying to be a recruiting tool for GOP. Case in point is the Ohio Governor's Poll...Rasmussen had Kasich at 49%, and ahead of Strickland by six, while the independent Quinnipac put Strickland ahead by six and Kasich in the low thirties! Today's narratives from Cook and others are disproportionately due to the Rasmussen polls. They have nothing else to go on. In short, other pollsters are short on cash or have abdicated their civic duty, Quinnipac, Sienna and Mason-Dixon included. Have not heard from Mason-Dixon in ages! The terrain is bad for the Dems. They will loose seats, but how bad they will loose is anyone's guess, this far out!

by Boilermaker 2010-02-23 07:58AM | 1 recs
RE: Formidable indeed

I agree polls are meaningless, but Daniels the candidate can be judged on his merits. Problem is we don't know a whole lot about his merits - other that he was a Bush admin guy (negative) and is a successful governor of a mid-west state (positive). We don't know how Daniels will do to distinguish himself in a primary which is likely to be hotly contested. In many ways he reminds me of Mark Warner.

by vecky 2010-03-04 03:32AM | 0 recs

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