Indiana’s Mitch Daniels: 2012 Republican Presidential Nominee?Posted: February 24, 2011
Lots of Republicans are urging Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Will he do it? Can he win?
Who’s touting Daniels? New Jersey Governor Chris Christie loves the guy.
Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, said Wednesday that his counterpart in Indiana, Mitch Daniels, is the only prospective Republican presidential candidate who is honestly talking about how to confront the nation’s biggest fiscal challenges.
Jeb Bush thinks Daniels is “the best Republican candidate.”
Jacksonville’s Florida Times-Union reports that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush favors Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels for president in 2012.
Bush reportedly told a private reception for business leaders, “Mitch is the only one who sees the stark perils and will offer real detailed proposals.”
Daniels’ speech at CPAC 2011 was very well received, and get this–George Will introduced Daniels to the CPAC audience as “the thinking man’s Marlon Brando,” apparently because Daniels likes to right around the Indiana countryside on a Harley Davidson chopper. Judge for yourself.
Daniels has some other problems too. For one thing he thinks Republicans should forget about social issues and focus on economic ones (cutting deficits, natch). Conservatives are not at all happy with Daniels for asking Indiana Republican legislators to withdraw their proposed “right to work” bill. In addition, he reportedly is a pretty serious policy wonk who likes to talk to his fellow wingnuts as if they were adults.
By far, the most important speech at CPAC was delivered by two-term Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana at Friday night’s banquet. It was an eloquently crafted, intellectually compelling call to arms against the red-ink forces of the national debt. Daniels, who was George W. Bush’s budget director, proposed dramatically revamping Social Security and Medicare as he called for “an affectionate thank you to the major social welfare programs of the last century.”
What was most striking about Daniels’ speech, which inspired careful listening rather than pep-rally applause, was that it treated his CPAC audience as adults rather than as just another constituency group demanding pandering. Whether it was dismissing the easy-answer attacks on earmarks (“in the cause of national solvency, they are a trifle”) or suggesting that most voters do not appreciate the sharp-edged rhetoric of the Republican right (“it would help if they liked us, just a bit”), Daniels’ speech was an exercise in speaking truth to conservatives who have the power to derail a presidential candidacy.
Come on, that’s never going to work with Republican primary voters!
On top of that, several media outlets reported today that Daniels was busted for drugs when he was in 1970 when he was a junior at Princeton. And it wasn’t for possession of just a little pot, either.
Perhaps the most pivotal day of Daniels’ four years at Princeton was May 14, 1970 — the day of the drug arrest that Daniels thought would sully his political future. Officers found enough marijuana in his room to fill two size 12 shoe boxes, reports of the incident say. He and the other inhabitants of the room were also charged with possession of LSD and prescription drugs without a prescription. Daniels and his two roommates in 111 Cuyler Hall, Marc Stuart ’71 and Richard Stockton ’71, were arrested and, after plea bargaining, Daniels eventually escaped with a $350 fine for “maintaining a common nuisance.” The charges against Stockton were eventually dropped.
Daniels characterized the incident as a “lesson.”
“We were sort of swept up in the net … I was fined for the accurate offense and I’ve learned from it,” he said.
Politico has more background and a photo of young Mitch.
Though Daniels is often knocked as a dull numbers guy, his past is actually among the most colorful of any Republican contender’s, beginning with the surprisingly little-known fact that he was arrested and jailed in a drug sting operation that centered on his Princeton University dorm room.
According to campus newspaper reports supplied by the university, Daniels and two other students were swept up in a five-month joint investigation between New Jersey state police and local police that culminated in the May 14th, 1970 raid on Daniels’ shared room at111 Cuyler Hall.
Daniels and the two other students were initially charged with possession of marijuana, LSD and prescription drugs without a prescription and with “maintaining a common nuisance by maintaining a place for the sale of narcotics.”
The undercover state police officer involved in the sting visited Daniels’ room “eight or nine times” and “observed narcotics paraphernalia, saw marijuana and hashish being used, and purchased marijuana prescription drugs and LSD.”
Incidentally, Daniels was also active in anti-war and anti-draft activism, despite the fact that he was already a Republican.
The biggest problem Daniels is much more difficult to surmount that being fairly intelligent and reasonable for a Republican and his drug arrest and peace activism. You may already have noted the problem in the photo of Daniels on his Harley. Take a look at this picture.
See the problem now? This guy is really short! He’s a runt, a pipsqueak–he’s tiny! George W. Bush is at best around 5’10”, and he towers over Daniels. Can you imagine what he’d look like on a stage next to Barack Obama? Daniels can’t be any taller than about 5’2″ or 5’3″. I’m not prejudiced against short people at all, but generally voters tend to prefer the taller candidate.
Now if Hillary were the nominee, the two of them would be around the same height. He might be a better foil for her than Huckabee or Palin too. OK, I know it’s a fantasy….