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.
Read the rest of this entry »