Mitch Daniels of Indiana Mulls 2012 Run
by Charles Lemos, Mon Feb 22, 2010 at 10:03:02 PM EST
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.