Indiana’s Mitch Daniels: 2012 Republican Presidential Nominee?

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels

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.

Mitch Daniels on his Harley

Marlon Brando in "The Wild One"

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….

28 Comments on “Indiana’s Mitch Daniels: 2012 Republican Presidential Nominee?”

  1. TheRock says:

    An interesting poll right now would be Mitch Daniels and Mark Rubio vs. Obumbles and Biden.

    Hillary 2012

  2. dakinikat says:

    Just shoot me now.

  3. boogieman7167 says:

    nope hes not going to win the wingnut err i mean repub primary

  4. Branjor says:

    I never even heard of Mitch Daniels and I used to live in Indiana.

    • bostonboomer says:

      He was an economic advisor for Reagan and Bush’s director of OMB. I didn’t know that before either though.

  5. madamab says:

    The guy is short and balding. And ugly. Come on! Bald guys don’t become President in the age of Teevee. Just ask Richard Nixon.

  6. Peggy Sue says:

    Color me silly but how do you ‘sell’ the former Budget Director under GW??? The same George Bush who doubled the deficit in 8 years, ran two, unnecessary, unfinanced wars, gave everyone tax breaks and told us to go out and shop until we dropped.

    Until everything went bust, that is, and we signed a blank check over to Hank Paulson to bail the poor bankers out.

    Are Republicans going to pretend that didn’t happen? Or do they think our memories are failing?

    Wow! I thought Mitt Romney had an uphill battle ‘splaining Romney/Obamacare.

    But Budget Director for GW! That takes guts. And sorry, this man is “not” Marlon Brando in anyone’s world. With or without drugs.

    Stick a fork in my eye!!!

  7. Fredster says:

    From the Gallup article:

    Former Massachusetts Gov. Romney wins among those focused on business and the economy, as befits his former experience as a businessman with a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard

    Didn’t Dubya have one of them MBA things too? And wasn’t he a “bidness” man in Texas before he became guv and prez?

    Beginning in the fall of 1973, Bush attended the Harvard Business School, where he earned an MBA. He is the only U.S. President to have earned an MBA

    I can see the comparisons now. 🙄

    • Dream Ticket ’08 Debate…Hollywood, CA

      Hillary: Well, I would, with all due respect, say that the United States government is much more than a business. It is a trust. It is the most complicated organization. But it is not out to make a profit. It is out to help the American people. It is about to stand up for our values and to do what we should at home and around the world to keep faith with who we are as a country. And with all due respect, we have a president who basically ran as the CEO, MBA president, and look what we got. I am not too happy about the results.

      Obama: Let me — let me just also point out that, you know, Mitt Romney hasn’t gotten a very good return on his investment during this presidential campaign And so, I’m happy to take a look at my management style during the course of this last year and his. I think they compare fairly well.

      • Don’t blame me… I voted for Hillary…

      • bostonboomer says:

        Besides, Romney isn’t a businessman. He is a speculator.

      • Pilgrim says:

        Let me — let me just point out in my feeble way that I — that I — am The One — and, you know, my style is something you should probably be impressed with. And so I’m happy to stand here beside Senator Clinton and bamboozle the daylights out of you.

      • Pilgrim, lol

        Hillary had the right answer grounded in the fact that the US government isn’t a business to begin with, it’s a trust. Obama cluelessly went along with the analogy as if it was valid and it was a great idea to compare CEO styles, even though Hillary had pointed out before him that it wasn’t valid at all (of course Hillary went first… she always had to go first, and he still couldn’t copy off her paper correctly.)

    • bostonboomer says:


      Gallup failed to explain that Romney made his money through leveraged buyouts of companies, laying off all their employees, and selling off their assets. He has no clue how to create jobs.

      • Fredster says:

        Ah…the old-fashioned way!

        If the comparison between Dubya and his MBA and Romney and *his* MBA isn’t enough, Lord help us. Which, if I were Harvard, I wouldn’t advertise that too much. LOL!

  8. Outis says:

    Is there a sign for running around a room with one’s hair on fire? That’s me.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I know. What are we supposed to do? Vote for Bush III, because we could do even worse? I just can’t do it.

  9. Dario says:

    Maybe Izvestia on the Hudson and the Washington Pravda will be forced to do journalism instead of stenography once works for the U.S.

    New UK website cracks down on PR-driven journalism

    LONDON – Hoax articles and lazy journalists are being pushed into the spotlight by a new website that aims to expose news outslets that regurgitate press releases — a practice known as “churnalism.”, launched by the Media Standards Trust charity, allows users to copy and paste content from news releases and compare it with articles published by British news outlets to see which reporters are less proactive and more reactive in searching for news
    Media Standards Trust director Martin Moore says the site is meant to be an “accountability tool” and would ruffle some feathers in the media.
    He said Thursday that with more resources and exposure, he hopes the site can eventually expand to other countries like the United States.

    • paper doll says:

      very interesting…where the start up dough coming from? …that’s always interesting. The exposure could be quite selective,based on if you tow the line or not….Anyone remember Cokie Roberts wearing a coat in front of a picture of the Supreme Court building …pretending she was reporting from there ? That was a hoot….but it didn’t seem to hurt her career any. We are still supposed to buy whatever she’s seling