Mitch Daniels Decides Not To Run For President

Bookmark and Share   Conservative Cannibals will be pleased to know that Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has decided not to run for the Republican presidential nomination. Others who have respected his long standing record and appreciated his common sense conservatism will not.  In a strangely timed, middle of the night email that was sent by the Governor through Eric Holcomb, the Indiana Republican Party chairman and Daniels’ closest advisers, the Governor wrote:

“In the end, I was able to resolve every competing consideration but one” He added “The interests and wishes of my family, is the most important consideration of all. If I have disappointed you, I will always be sorry.”

In the e-mail, Governor Daniels stated; “If you feel that this was a non-courageous or unpatriotic decision, I understand and will not attempt to persuade you otherwise,” and added, “I only hope that you will accept my sincerity in the judgment I reached.”

Mitch Daniels’ decision leaves behind a still evolving Republican presidential field that some believe is uninspiring and lackluster. At the same time, the far right and many of their commercial mouthpieces made it clear that despite a record of unmatched fiscal and social conservatism, Mitch Daniels’ one time call for a truce on social issues so that we could focus our attention on the economic crisis that faces us, made him ineligible for fair consideration for the presidential nomination. In fact, it was from far right corners of conservative activism that Mitch Daniels received his harshest criticism. This was a point that I recently noted when I quoted one conservative blogger who wrote the following:

“Mitch Daniels is the darling of the Rockefeller Republican elites. He is touted as some kind of policy wonk. In reality he is a man with no backbone. His wife dumped him for another man and he begged her back. Eventually she did and he acted like everything was OK. He backed down to the Labor Unions recently over a Right to Work law. In short, Mitch Daniels is a man without a spine and would be easy meat for The Progressive machine. He is no Conservative and is a Progressive Republican.” –by Rodan, from The Blogmacracy, 4/16/11

That quote is a perfect example of the type “interests” concerning his family that Mitch Daniels claimed to  be the sole reason for his declining to run for President. Based upon his determining factor, Daniels is right. The circumstances surrounding the divorce and eventual remarriage of him and wife Cheri Daniels, will certainly put his wife and family under the focus of a misplaced spotlight.

After divorcing Mitch Daniels, Cheri left their four children with Mitch, moved to California where she briefly remarried another man and eventually divorced that man and reunited with Mitch some 9 and half years ago. While Daniels has called their relationship “an American love story”, the bloodthirsty environment involved in covering politics, was certain to drag the Daniels marriage through the mud.

In the end, Mitch Daniels did not see the intentional public infliction of pain and the ultimately unnecessary invasion of privacy as being worth the effort it takes to run for President.

While that decision is understandable, it is nonetheless disappointing to people like myself who saw Mitch Daniels as one of the few obviously electable names with the type of economic gravitas, personal integrity, and proven record that this nation needs as it tries to move past the policy failures of the Obama Administration. However, Daniels’ absence from the field of choices available to Republicans, does not mean that hope is lost, or that the G.O.P. will not be able to elect a nominee that they can be enthusiastic about and who can defeat President Obama in 2012.

As I have repeatedly argued in White House 2012, the nominating process will give rise to a leader who will emerge as a political star with the promise to outshine President Obama. Of those candidates who are either in or that we know will be in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, there is already a field of candidates filled with individuals who have compelling cases to make for the leadership that they offer the United States. And as that process unfolds, one of them will unite together a coalition of national forces that will have the ability to beat Obama in 2012.

At the moment, Daniels certain absence from the race probably benefits Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty the most. Mitch Daniels’ strong suit was fiscal conservatism. With his extensive background in business, that is also Mitt Romney’s strong suit and with the pitch that Tim Pawlenty is prepared to give, the fiscal conservatism that he applied to Minnesota when he was Govenor, will that one of his strongest suits too. So with Daniels out, Romney and Pawlenty avoids directly splitting support based on that preeminent issue between one less person, the person who would have held the market on that issue.

Romney has been, and remains, the closest thing to a frontrunner that the G.O.P. has. Were it not for his support of a Massachusetts healthcare plan that many say was a model for President Obama’s national healthcare plan, Romney would probably have little in the way of his winning the nomination. At the moment Romney’s best hope on that issue is for the ability for him to convincingly argue that his plan was never designed to be a model for the nation.  As for Tim Pawlenty, rightly or wronglly, very few have seen him as their first choice for the nomination.  For most, he is an acceptable seconf third, or even fourth choice.  With Mitch Daniels out, Pawlenty gains ground as a altenative for those who wanted Mitch to run.

While the Daniels’ announcement is good news for Romney and probably Pawlenty, it is also welcome news for others who are contemplating a run for President. Especially Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin. With Mitch Daniels out, they are afforded a larger window of opportunity to fill a perceived void on the issue of fiscal conservatism and even other issues such as abortion, an issue which Mitch Daniels is a champion of.

Ultimately, Daniels decision not to run is a loss for the Party and the nation. He was the antithesis of President Obama in every way and as such, he afforded Republicans the opportunity to field a nominee that would have given the American people a choice between two clearly contrasting figures who would have presented voters with two distinctly different futures for America. In many ways, I am confident that Republicans will find themselves a candidate who in the final analysis, has the same positions on the issues and who will adopt approaches to the issues that are similar to Mitch Daniels. I had just hoped that we would have been able to choose from a field of candidates that included the original Mitch Daniels, not a mock up.

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One Response

  1. Daniels can’t run because of his family. His claim to this fact takes on a much broader meaning in light of his wife’s recent presentation. Cheri Daniel’s speech was a disaster, an embarrassment. Sharp young couples I know who are vaguely acquainted with politics, and watched to become more familiar with Daniels, were mortified. As one young man emailed me when he heard Daniels was out, “Daniels won’t be in the White House and it is a good thing. . . . for him as well.”

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