The VP Matrix

Excitement continues to brew about who Mitt Romney might choose as his Vice President.  Today a story hit the news circulation that Marco Rubio is not being vetted, but Tim Pawlenty is being given serious consideration.  Romney found himself on the defensive this evening.  But before you get too excited about a Marco Rubio candidacy, or too upset about it, you may want to take a breather and consider who Romney is and what kind of campaign he is running.  Flash and splash are not the orders of the day.

Mitt Romney’s campaign need do no more than promise a stronger economy and let Obama continue to create a weaker economy.  In fact, Mitt Romney’s tour through small town USA promoting the private sector and values of competition is exactly where he needs to be.  Obama is spouting a controversy mixed with a gaffe every day.  Why jump in front of a train wreck?  Romney’s VP choice will be about as blockbuster as a sandwich from a WaWa vending machine.

Get out your VP scorecards and consider the following:

Mitt’s VP choice will not be a fresh face.

Mitt Romney is not looking for a candidate with little national experience.  Nor is he looking for a candidate who everyone on the far right loves.  Romney doesn’t need a shot of adrenaline or steroids.  The last thing he needs is someone who is going to distract from the national disaster of the Obama Presidency.  Romney does not need a divisive TEA party figure.  He certainly doesn’t need someone who could be perceived as inexperienced.  If Romney picks a veteran, the media will be cautious about trying to embarrass them as a rookie.  But media types smell blood in the water when there is fresh meat.  Even a studied, prepared candidate might not be able to field a trick question like “do you support the Bush doctrine”.  However, a veteran is less likely to be asked that question.

Obama’s inexperience took a back seat in the media when McCain brought in Palin

This is bad for Allen West, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Susana Martinez, Scott Walker, and Paul Ryan.  Could be good for Mitch Daniels, Tim Pawlenty, Jeb Bush, Condi Rice, or Rudy Guiliani.

Mitt’s VP choice will not be old and tired.

The death knell for a Republican candidacy, fair or not, is being old and grey.  Nothing plays into stereotypes of Republicans more than an old, grey haired, slow talking wrinkly man.  While Romney doesn’t need a shot in the arm, he also doesn’t need something contributing to the stereotypes more than he does already.  Right now Romney is Reaganesque in his looks and style.  But an older veteran running mate would turn his campaign into the old rich white people’s ticket.  Again, it may not be fair or right, but don’t expect a VP over 55 years old.

Don’t expect Newt Gingrich, Fred Thompson, or Rob Portman.  Could be good for Bobby McDonnell, Nikki Haley, Chris Christie

Jack Kemp and Bob Dole combined had nearly two centuries of experience

Mitt’s VP choice may not be female or minority.

There is this idea that the only way to defeat Barack Obama is by running a female or minority VP candidate.  Aside from that strategy failing miserably with Sarah Palin, the problem is that Republicans pay far less attention to race and gender than Democrats do, and Democrats virulently hate conservative women and minorities.  We have seen in recent years just how much visible hatred has been directed toward Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell, Allen West, Nikki Haley, Michelle Bachmann, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, etc.  There is a clear desire on the left for female and minority Republicans to fail.  In Mitt Romney’s case, he is not looking for diversity for diversity’s sake.  That’s not to say he won’t pick a female or minority candidate, but if he does it will be someone respected by both sides and unassailable.

This makes Allen West, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, Nikki Haley, and Susana Martinez less likely.  However, it doesn’t necessarily knock Condoleeza Rice out of the running, although she will carry the stigma on the left of being chosen for diversity’s sake.  Again, might not be fair, but since when were politics fair.

Mitt’s VP choice will not be controversial.

It’s bad when your VP candidate has almost as many quotable gaffes as Joe Biden

Mitt Romney is not looking to cause trouble for himself.  He doesn’t need a loudmouth or a controversial character.  Don’t expect any candidate who is going to make serious waves.  As I said before, Romney doesn’t need a distraction from the freak show of the Obama economy.  Expect a well respected candidate who is as smooth politically as Romney himself.

You can scratch the Donald, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Allen West, and Newt Gingrich off your list.  This is a strike against Jeb Bush and Condoleeza Rice as well.  But it favors Mitch Daniels, possibly Bob McDonell, and John Thune.

Expect a strategic pick.

Romney’s not going to choose a popular governor from a red state.  But he might choose a popular candidate from a purple or blue state.  And there are a few to choose from.  Rubio would lock of Florida.  Bob McDonnell could secure the nearly must win blue state of Virginia.  Tim Pawlenty could inspire votes from the teetering Great Lakes states.  Rick Snyder of Michigan could really bring in some blue states, but he is likely disqualified for being old and a fresh face at the same time.  Brian Sandoval might help swing Nevada to Romney while also providing the opportunity to highlight Harry Reid’s role in the destruction of our economy.

This set of criteria will hardly provide a definite pick.  In fact, some points are contradictory.  But it should provide some ideas for people who are looking at the potential VP picks.  I could hardly make a prediction even based on this criteria.  But I do believe it comprises the factors that Romney will be looking at when making his pick.

The Herd: A Look at The Republican Vice Presidential Candidates. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels

Bookmark and Share   The Herd is a special White House 2012 series covering the obvious and not so obvious potential choices to be selected as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate on the Republican presidential ticket.  Each day, White House 2012 will introduce you to one the many Republicans which we believe will be at least considered for for the vice presidency by the now inevitable presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.

In addition to a biographical information and a brief assessement of each potential nominee and their chances of being selected by Mitt Romney, White House 2012′s coverage also includes each potential nominee’s voting records, as well as a listing of their public statements and links to their web sites.

Today White House 2012 takes a look at  Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels

Born: April 7, 1949 (1949-04-07) (age 61), Monongahela, Pennsylvania

Spouse(s): Cheri Lynn Herman Daniels

Children : Meagan, Melissa, Meredith and Margaret

Residence : Governor’s Residence, Indianapolis, Indiana

Alma mater: Princeton University, Georgetown University Law Center

Profession: Businessman (pharmaceuticals)

Political Career :

  • Worked on the unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign of William D. Ruckelshaus.
  • Interned in the office of then-Indianapolis Mayor Richard Lugar.
  • Worked on Lugar’s re-election campaign, joined then Mayor Lugar’s staff and soon became his Chief of Staff.
  • When Lugar was elected to the U.S. Senate, Daniels joined him in Washington as an administrative assistant and eventually as one of his top aides.
  • Daniels went on to become executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee,
  • He was also the campaign manager of three successful Senate campaigns for Richard Lugar.
  • In 1985 Daniels became a part of the Reagan Administration when he became chief political advisor and liaison to President Ronald Reagan.
  • In January 2001, Daniels accepted President George W. Bush’s invitation to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) where He served from January 2001 through June 2003 and in that role after proving to be a real cutter of budgets, he earned the nickname “the Blade”
  • Daniels also served as a member of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council.
  • In 2004 and 2008, Daniels was elected Governor of Indiana.

(Click here for Mitch Daniels’ White House 2012 page)

By all rights, Mitch Daniels should have been the frontrunner, not just for Vice President, but for President. He has sailed Indiana through the tough seas of a terrible national economy and created a state that is one of the three best to do business in and for job creation. He came in to office with an $800 million deficit and by the time he was running for reelection in 2008, that deficit was turned in to a $1.3 billion surplus.

That is one reason why he won his 2008 reelection by an 18% margin. Not a bad margin of victory, especially when you consider the fact that at the same time, while a majority of Indiana voters pulled the lever for Barack Obama for President, Mitch Daniels received more than 20% of the African-American vote for Governor. That is an unusually high percentage of the black vote for any Republican, anywhere. But on top of that, the makeup of Mitch Daniels reelection victory was comprised of 51 percent of the youth vote, 67 percent of the elderly, 57 percent of independent voters and even 24 percent of the Democrats in the state. All of which means that Mitch Daniels has crossover appeal.

And like John Thune, Daniels has that Middle American appeal that can allow him to connect with Midwest voters, including and especially those in his own state of Iowa and neighboring Illinois and even the more important delegate rich state of Ohio.

While this Harley Davidson riding governor is understated and even meek, when he starts talking you know you are dealing with a man who like Newt Gingrich, is the smartest person in the room. But unlike Newt, Mitch Daniels’ homespun, midwestern, charm puts you at ease and makes you realize that while he is smart, he is not an elitists. He’s the type of guy who never forgets that he puts his pants on one leg at a time. While some like John Thune may be considered consistent conservatives, Mitch Daniels is consistent but comes across as more of a commonsense conservative. He has an uncanny dry wit, that will slowly rise and surprise you with a slew of knee-slappers. Mitch is both a policy wonk and people person. And what is probably most important of all is that his area of expertise is in the budget…….the budget that has now reached a crisis level, something which Mitch has repeatedly warned us about.

After coming close to running for President but deciding against it largely due to concerns about the pressure on his family, it is unclear if Mitch Daniels would suddenly believe that the pressure will be any less if he runs for Vice President. But you never know. Combine that with the fact that he would be a balancing force on any ticket, and has the experience and ability to lead our nation in the right direction and what you have is absolutely no reason why Mitch Daniels should not be on anyone’s short list.

Pros:

  • A highly successful, popular two term Governor
  • The favorite son of a state Republicans need to win the 270 electoral votes required to take control of the White House
  • His expertise on the economy and budgets will help dwarf any claim of expertise that the Obama Administration will boast
  • Has great appeal in the all important Midwest region
  • Executive experience
  • Considered a budget hawk
  • Has proven to appeal to African-American voters, even winning a majority of them in his state during the same 2008 election that saw Indiana voters elect Barack Obama President

Cons:

  • Daniels’ marriage, divorce, and remarriage to his wife may be come an issue and the Daniels’ are discouraged to seek higher office because of the lack of privacy that would come with such an office
  • Evangelicals were turned off by remarks Daniels made suggesting that social issues needed to go on to the back burner until we resolved our economic problems
  • Daniels is not a firebrand that typically fires up the forces
  • His position as Budget Director for G.W. Bush will provide the opposition with powerful rhetoric linking the economic downturn to Bush, Daniels and ultimately Romney.

Assessment:

Mitch Daniels is one of my prefered candidates for the job. The only thing that would make him the perfect composite for all that the G.O.P. could want their vice presidential nominee to be would if Mitch Daniels was actually Mitchie Danielsita, a Latina Governor of Florida or Ohio.  But shallow demographics aside, not only is Mitch Daniels one of the most responsible choices a presidential nominee can make, he would be a strong and effective voice on economic matters, and has a way of being able to bridge the political divide without caving on conservative principles. He is a solid, stable figure who is methodical, efficient and innovative.  Despite small pockets of criticism to the contrary, his credentials are impeccable and he is an extremely intelligent and likeable fellow. Mitt Romney may be inclined to pick Daniels for many reasons including his gravitas on the economy, his expertise in matters of budgets and his handling of Indiana’s budget, his strong and consistent anti-abortion record and his political demeanor. But criticism about Daniels comment suggesting that social issues must take a backseat to economic matters, may cause Romney to seek a running mate that could help bolster his own standings among social conservatives who still view Romney with great skepticism. Another hitch in this nearly perfect picture is Mitch Daniels relationship to the Bush Administration.  Having held that position, the left will paint him as the architect of the existing federal budget deficit and economic problem we’re in.  However Daniels served only 29 months as Budget Director and in that time most of the cuts Daniels proposed were not passed by Congress.  Such was the case in 2001.  when he helped craft the Bush tax cuts. At that time , the $2.13 trillion budget that Daniels submitted to Congress included deep cuts in many agencies in order to accommodate for those tax cuts.  But against Daniels’ own judgement, very few of the spending cuts were actually approved by Congress.     But try to explain that to the nation when President Obama is pumping a billion dollars into an effort that tries to deny those facts and to make Mitch Daniels the fall guy.

It’s a close call but if Mitt is not afraid of how the left will try to distort Daniels’ record during his time at OMB, Romney’s proclivity for playing it safe may just make Mitch Daniels his near perfect running mate.  I for one will be ecstatic if Mitt picks Mitch.

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Recent Key Votes

SB 1 – Authorizes the Use of Force Against Law Enforcement Officers in Certain Situations

Legislation (Sign)

March 20, 2012

HB 1269

Legislation (Sign)

March 19, 2012

HB 1149 – Prohibits Smoking in Public Places

Legislation (Sign)

March 19, 2012

More Key Votes

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Mitch Daniels on the Issues

International Issues Domestic Issues Economic Issues Social Issues
Foreign Policy Gun Control Budget & Economy Education
Homeland Security Crime Government Reform Civil Rights
War & Peace Drugs Tax Reform Abortion
Free Trade Health Care Social Security Families & Children
Immigration Technology Corporations Welfare & Poverty
Energy & Oil Environment Jobs Principles & Values

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It Would Seem That Governors Have a Lot of Points to Make to President Obama

Bookmark and Share  Upon hearing about the brouhaha over a recent tarmac meeting between Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and President Obama, I couldn’t help but draw a connection between the now infamous photo of the Governor pointing a finger at the President’s face and a similar meeting between President Obama and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels on the tarmac at an Indianapolis airport back in early May of last year.

 

Back in May, Governor Daniels airport exchange with the President was never fully disclosed but apparently it was a very pleasant meeting, something which could not be said of Brewer and Obama’s meeting.

According to Governor Brewer, a very thin skinned President Obama took it upon himself to tell Brewer that he was not happy with her recent characterization of the President in her new book “Scorpions for Breakfast”. In it Brewer discusses the issue of illegal immigration, which she and the President disagree upon.

The interesting thing is that according to Brewer, she was quite pleased that the President was in her state and came there to sincerely welcome him. But according to the Governor, the President would have none of that. Instead he told he was not pleased with her opinions and walked away from her while she was in the middle of a sentence.

Given the President’s attitude and his failed policies, it is hard to believe that there are not more pictures of Governors with their fingers in the Commander-in-Chiefs face. Obviously they have many points that the President seems to be missing and that he needs to get.

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Yes, he can?

In the volatility of the Republican 2012 primary, one thing is for sure.  Calling this race now would be like predicting the Superbowl in September.  How ’bout them Eagles.  Of course, I called the Eagles faltering before the season started.  I’m usually pretty good with my football picks.  So, allow me to apply some of that prophetic magic here.  FYI, this post is not for the faint of heart.  I’m just giving it to you straight.

Romney is all set as the Republican establishment candidate.  He has had that spot locked up really since before Mitch Daniels dropped out of the race.  Now the one stable thing in this race is that Romney will get the establishment vote.  He will also get a lot of mainstream Republican votes.  But he is going to run into a real issue, and that is with the anti-establishment movement within the Republican party.  All that is about to blow wide open this week as the NYT releases a story about opinions among establishment Republicans of the TEA party.  The GOP is about to have a civil war on its hands.  Whether they can recover by next November will be huge in determining whether or not Barack Obama is President in 2013.  Mitt Romney absolutely must nail down his conservative support and soon, or he will lose Iowa, South Carolina and Florida.

Cain's 999 plan could be his undoing

I like Herman Cain a lot.  I think he would make a great Vice President.  I think he would be a star on the campaign trail.  I think he would bring a lot of conservatives to the table and would bring the TEA party and anti-establishment wing to the table.  Here’s the problem: Herman Cain’s 9 9 9 plan sucks.  He would do better to drop that plan completely and advocate a Fairtax, which I also oppose for various reasons you can find here.  But even the Fairtax is better than 9 9 9.  Cain’s 9 9 9 plan has several Achilles’s heels hidden in its simplicity.  Perhaps the worst is the 9% flat tax on corporation’s gross profits minus purchases and dividends.  Unless Cain plans to include payroll with purchases, his 9% flat tax could turn into an effective 99% tax, or even higher, on low margin service industries with high labor costs.  But simplicity and feel good soundbites are what drives the Cain campaign.  Sometimes those soundbites are the common sense we are all thinking, but nobody who represents us is saying.  In those times, I love Herman Cain.  Other times it’s not much better than the soundbites written on a Wall Street mob sign.  Great for riling you up, until you stop and think about it.

Right now, we are watching the French Revolution in the TEA party and anti-establishment wing of the Republican party.  And who can blame them?  I should say, who can blame us.  Our party had the President who initially signed TARP.  Now, of course I don’t think Bush ever imagined TARP would be used to give the treasury secretary ultimate powers to steal companies from their bondholders, sell them overseas and give the proceeds to unions.  But he should have.  Conservative Constitutionalists are praying, quite literally, that we don’t get fooled again.  The result has been the rise and fall of Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and now Herman Cain.  Each time, the anti-establishment establishment is looking for that perfect, conservative candidate that we can get behind and support.

Now, suddenly Newt Gingrich is inching back into the top three.  In fact, while Cain tops out the very volatile state of Florida, Gingrich has hit double digits.  As a matter of fact, Gingrich’s facebook page shows a photo of him on the Drudge Report with a story about how he is still in this.  And he definitely is.

The difference between Newt and the other candidates is that Newt’s laundry has been on the line for years now.  Everyone knows who Newt Gingrich is.  He isn’t going to come out with a plan that sinks his campaign a month from now.  No one is going to learn during a debate about him forcing 12 year old girls to get vaccines for sexually transmitted diseases.  Everyone knows how imperfect his past is.  That’s why he hasn’t been in this race up to now.  And that is why he will be very dangerous if Cain falls on 9 9 9.  Of course, I mean “dangerous” in the best way possible.  Newt versus Mitt with no specter of late arrivals and no more candidates left to shoot up to the top could solidify January’s primaries.

Newt can carry Iowa and South Carolina easily once the other social conservatives lose their votes to him.  Newt was the first in the debates to really highlight how Obama was preventing jobs from coming to South Carolina.  And Iowa will pick the social conservative every time.  In a Newt/Mitt race, it will all be about Florida.

Could the debate in Jacksonville, FL determine the next President of the United States?

On January 26th, Republicans will hold the last GOP debate that matters before the primary.  I know, there will be one in Tampa the night before the primary.  No one is going to change their mind because of the Tampa debate.  It will all come down to January 26th in Jacksonville, Florida.  Mitt Romney versus the TEA party favorite.  The last time the Superbowl was held here, the Patriots won.

Is It Too Late?

Some very wise political analysts wrote that things have changed since 1992 when Bill Clinton got into the race late and managed to win. The need to build a national campaign network, raise money and meet the demands of 24/7 campaigning without making a single mistake are hurdles that put late joiners at a serious disadvantage. Mitt Romney has been raising money, performing in debates, bringing in endorsements and satisfying local political committees necessary for the early primaries. He can do it because he has a network in place to do most of the work for him, leaving him free to focus on interviews, debate prep and meeting with the big donors. Gov. Perry, as a relative late-comer, is floundering by comparison. The overwhelming demands on his time in places he has no network and from people with whom he has no intermediaries have strained his ability to focus on improving his debate abilities. His big lead has slumped and he is at risk of simply fading away. By the time he gets a full national campaign in place, his mistakes may have made him irrelevant. Soon Herman Cain will face the same problems. These were the reasons various pundits said Christie should definitely not get into the race. It was too late, even if he had changed his mind.

But is it too late? Being in early and ahead in the polls is no guarantee of success. The pages of campaign history are littered with the failed campaigns of big names, with national support and early planning. Perhaps the right question is not whether it is too late, but rather is it too soon? It is clearly too late to get into the race and compete against the established campaigns. There is not enough time to get a national campaign up and running effectively between now and the early primaries while simultaneously engaging in frequent televised debates. But, that doesn’t mean it is too late to get into the race at all. It just means it is too early to be a late entrant.

Look at the poll numbers Perry pulled in just due to hype. Christie saw the same, although he ended up not running. Cain made one great debate appearance and his numbers shot up. However, Perry and Cain now have to find a way to sustain that popularity for months before it can translate into votes. Just ask Michele Bachmann how that straw poll victory is treating her now. Frankly, getting in early opens the door to constant attacks by a vengeful media and the inevitable mistake that will get blown out of proportion just to have a news story to report. Romney and Paul are somewhat immune to these problems because they were already attacked in the last election and there just isn’t much new to attack them with. Their names are already out there and they have a base of support in place, so they don’t need the big performance to gain a position in the rankings. They just need to not trip over themselves and wait it out until the primaries get closer and they start spending the piles of money they built up. Everyone else has an uphill battle and has as much to fear from sudden success as from a major mistake.

With so many primaries happening so close together and so early in the year, a late entrant could ride the newcomer media hype to a handful of early victories. Then, by absorbing the staff and network of candidates who are forced to drop out, basically walk into a national campaign with enough time remaining to still effectively raise funds for the general election in November. This would not work for just any random candidate, but there are some big names who stayed out who have the skills, policy knowledge and connections to pull it off if they time it right. A December entry could steal the nomination.

I’m not saying that is what should happen, will happen or would be desirable. It is just that the old logic that there is a time after which a new campaign cannot succeed is very likely no longer valid. Like it or not, the media does manipulate public opinion in elections. Playing the media against itself may be a better strategy than traditional campaigning. After all, then Sen. Obama had nothing to offer on policy or experience, but the media carried him to victory. The media may be generally against conservatives, but they just can’t help themselves from hyping anyone new. Even if the hype is full of negatives, it raises the recognition of that candidate and usually results in a rise in the polls – at least until the hype dies down or the candidate withers under the spotlight.

A well-timed late entrant would face significant challenges, but could play the media hype into a surge in the polls just in time for it to translate into real votes. I’m sure Rick Perry wishes the early primaries had been in August when he was the talk of the town. Had they been, he’d probably be in this against Romney alone instead of falling back into a still crowded pack. The lack of consensus on a candidate and the infighting between them during the debates could be justification enough for one of the big names that decided not to run many months ago (when Obama looked stronger) to reconsider and come in to ‘unify the party against Obama’. While such an entry would never work if it came this month or in November, it could potentially play in December – especially if the field doesn’t slim down between now and then.

Second Thoughts?Who could pull off this last minute capture of the early primaries and the nomination? There are two that immediately come to mind: Haley Barbour and Mitch Daniels. Conversely, two names that couldn’t pull it off are Sarah Palin and Chris Christie. They both bowed out too recently to change their minds so soon. Barbour and Daniels could be ‘drafted’ back in if they plan such an effort. They are not the only ones, but the ones with the best name recognition (Daniels) and existing connections (Barbour) to generate the necessary media hype and channel it into sudden victories. With the voters still divided, no real excitement for the ‘inevitable candidate’ and a compressed primary schedule, there may never be a better time than December to capture the race without having to face the withering pressure of public scrutiny of every minor decision they ever made. With so many of the big names that got out early still sitting silently and not endorsing anyone, one has to wonder if they are pondering the same thing I am. But, only one could pull it off. If two jumped in, they would both lose. If Barbour and Daniels go to dinner, Romney should start to worry.

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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Defending Mitch Daniels Against Conservative Cannibals

Bookmark and Share  For too long, I have sat by and listened to commercially puritanical pundits, prattle on and preach about a fictitious lack of ideological commitment and credibility that they attribute to Indiana Governor and possible Republican presidential candidate Mitch Daniels. From conservative radio rating hound Rush Limbaugh to the Washington Compost’s commercialized, conservative columnist and blogger Jennifer Rubin, Mitch Daniels is being portrayed as a pseudo-conservative, political establishmentarian, who is preparing to eagerly betray the very ideology that he embodies and which, unlike those holier than thou, backseat conservative commentators, he has actually applied to government. I am sad to say that even Mark Levin, one of the few conservative talking heads that I have any real appreciation for, has jumped on this utterly shameful and undeserved crusade to create a crushing negative impression of Mitch Daniels.

Much of this began several months ago, when the Republican presidential sweepstakes was not even in its embryonic stage, and Governor Daniels stated in an interview, that it was his belief that as we look to 2012, the G.O.P. must call a truce on social issues. The uproar that those words gave rise to, exploded within the ranks of social conservatives with such a force, that even the liberal led lamestream media decided to distort and cover the comments with an intensity that helped make the name, Mitch Daniels, go from being almost unknown to, in terms of ideological commitment, being equated to as storied a figure as Benedict Arnold. The scrutiny and ensuing manufactured translation of the remark, totally ignored the fact that literally translated, a truce means a temporary suspension of certain activity, not a surrender of a cause. But ever since Mitch Daniels’  words were intentionally twisted, he spent the days following his comment, clarifying and explaining that his terminology was based not on a desire to sweep issues like abortion under the rug, but for the need to prioritize that which has reached a level of indisputable crises and that common sense dictates must be taken care of before all else. Those days of explanation soon turned into weeks of edification, and those weeks have now turned in to months of continued explanation.

Still, admirably focused, but spitefully short-sighted, social conservatives do not want to hear it. Instead they decided to ignore one of the most socially conservative records of any Governor in America, and declare that actions do not speak louder than words. Instead of examining Daniels’ deeds and the actual meaning of his words, some social conservatives have taken a page from Saul Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals and adopted a full on frontal assault of one of their own that is akin to the type of hyperbole and twisted tactics that lunatic liberals use against conservatives as a whole.

Think that’s an exaggeration?

See for yourself.

Here’s one example of the type of cannibalistic conservative mentality that the hypocritical Alinsky-like, bomb throwers from within our own ranks have written about Governor Daniels:

“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

This malicious and out-of-bounds treatment of Daniels’ personal life and political record is not only outrageously incorrect, it shows that not only are some elements of the conservative base of the Republican Party willing to ignore facts about one’s actual record, they are also so out of touch with reality and lacking of rational thought and decency that they go out of their way to create their own fictitious storyline . And then they are willing go even further by trying to present their fictional tale as a recitation of historical fact that defines the political fortitude of a proven leader and attack his family. This is something which the left and right accuse each other of doing on a regular basis, but it is not often that one side can be accused of using such tactics on themselves.

In regards to the previously quoted attack on Daniels, to be fair, I concede that Governor Daniels did withdraw his push for sweeping legislative action that would have made Indiana a Right-to-Work state. However the justification for that decision was based on several very real factors that Daniels’ critics had the luxury of ignoring. In addition to the fact that the Right-to-Work initiative jeopardized the passage of many other significant reforms that would have comprised the entirety of Governor Daniels’ conservative agenda, the Right-to-Work issue is not as significant a problem in Indiana as it is in other states.

2010 demonstrated that the number of private-sector workers in Indiana who were members of unions, fell 37 percent over the last decade. This seemingly unstoppable drop in the unionization of private sector jobs is a direct result of Governor Daniels’ years of hard-line positions with unions. This includes his early elimination of binding arbitration which was a most bitter pill that he forced unions to swallow. Because of Mitch Daniels’ take-no-crap stance with unions since first taking office in 2004, unions in Indiana have been forced to accept many conservative reforms which have helped to create an environment that prohibited them from being as overbearing as they are in many other states in the nation. As a result, given the responsibility of leadership that Governor Daniels is in and under the pro-business environment that he has created, he made a judgment call. He decided that in his state, the abusive policy of unionization which forces one to pay dues in order to be employed, was not a severe enough problem to jeopardize the multiple number of other significant and urgent reforms that hung in the balance during this past legislative session. Some of those reforms included limiting collective bargaining for teachers to include only wages and benefits and allowing school districts to establish their own contract terms if negotiations with a union fail after 60 days.

But even if one views these as excuses rather than legitimate reasons for not advancing Right-to Work legislation, should that negate the dozens of other conservative policy and legislative successes Mitch Daniels has achieved in just this most recent legislative session alone? Should social conservatives not be hailing Mitch Daniels for landmark decisions such as enacting legislation that totally denies Planned Parenthood of any tax payer money? Should social conservatives not be enthusiastic with what Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter described as Governor Daniels’ establishing Indiana as “one of the leading pro-life states in the nation.”? Is there any reason for social conservatives to ignore the fact that Governor Daniels’ protection of the unborn has led him to achieve legislation that denies public funds to businesses that profit from abortions, or a bill which ensures that women considering having an abortion are provided the facts regarding such issues as fetal development and alternatives to abortion?

And what of a gubernatorial career full of achievements that other conservative governors have only been able to dream about, such as the ability to tackle the problem of tenure and giving local school districts the right to hire and fire and compensate teachers based on ability, not seniority? What about establishing the largest school choice and charter school expansion in the nation?

Be it on same-sex marriage, education, property rights, abortion, or any other social or fiscal conservative issue, Governor Mitch Daniels� is a champion of them. Yet his call for us to temporarily focus on the greatest and most immediate crisis facing this nation at the moment, fuels the ire of some who are unwilling or unable to accept the reality that requires our nation to properly prioritize our many problems.

Based upon the reality of the record that Mitch Daniels has accumulated, I can only conclude that those who are constantly trying to portray Mitch Daniels is a pseudo-conservative and as the �establishment� candidate, are either ignorant or disingenuous. At the same time it is fortunate that the rants of such insignificant, unaccomplished, wannabe leaders of political thought as Rodan, from virtually unknown tabloid-like blogs such as �The Blogmacracy�, have little, if any, of the influence that they wish they had. If they had their way, real conservatives would have to foam at the mouth to be considered acceptable and electable. If they had their way, every conservative would have to sound like a bitter, tunnel visioned, madman. The type of candidate who would scare more voters away than convince them to join the cause. If these bitter conservative cannibals had their way, we would find ourselves with a field of conservatives overstating a legitimate case for conservative principles that would go so far, it would give another John McCain-like candidate�the opportunity to seem like the only rational candidate in the field, march right up the middle, and win the nomination, and in the end offer us nothing but repeated defeat at the polls.

It is time for conservative pessimists to calm down, get a grip, and begin to change their strategy from the indiscriminate carpet bombing of their own, to more effective precision strikes against those who oppose them.� By demanding that Republicans only consider the nomination of a candidate who insists on striving to be the religious right�s Pastor-in-Chief and forcing them to refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of prioritizing the issues which threaten every aspect of our lives, we are killing our chances of defeating President Obama in 2012 and merely electing, not a presidential nominee, but a Party leader. That Party leader will then have the chance to lead Republicans but they will lose the chance to the lead the nation.

For his part Mitch Daniels put it this way:

“If there were a WMD attack, death would come to straights and gays, pro-life and pro-choice,” he explained “If the country goes broke, it would ruin the American dream for everyone. We are in this together. Whatever our honest disagreements on other questions, might we set them aside long enough to do some very difficult things without which we will be a different, lesser country?”

This is the thinking which led Mitch Daniels to articulate the need to prioritize the economic issues which are the cause of an erosion of society that undermines everything from the defense of the unborn, the value of family, the education of our children, and the defense of our nation. For that reason, in order to properly address those issues, we must first resolve the economic crisis which affects all those issues. This does not mean that he is preparing to abandon his commitment to social conservatives. It just means that he is willing to focus on our greatest problems first and it demonstrates that he has the ability to expand his appeal to enough voters to make it possible for a conservative agenda to be considered and advanced.

The most recent attack upon Daniels stems from a statement in which he told a progressive Republican group that we should avoid the use of wedge issues. This has ed those like Jennifer Rubin and Mark Levin to claim that Mitch Daniels is calling upon the G.O.P. to capitulate and allow the left to set the agenda. Such an interpretation is an indication that Mitch Daniels’ political instincts surpass them and that his larger point went over their heads.  Daniels desire to avoid the �insincerity of taking issues and using them as a “wedge” in the support base of one political group is sign that he realizes people are seeing right through.   We just went through an election cycle dominated by a TEA Party movement that did not want politics-as-usual and punished those who practiced it.  Ad on this count, again Mitch Daniels is right. His statement was not a sign of capitulation, it was an indication of his awareness of the fact that Americans are tired of the political games played by our political leaders.

Ultimately, Mitch Daniels is doing what every other potential Republican candidate for President is doing and exactly what every Tea Party enthusiast and struggling American family is doing and wants our leaders to actively address. Mitch Daniels is focusing on that which is of most immediate importance to us, the American economy which is in a state of precariously slow growth, coupled with a crisis of crushing national debt that is threatening our future. These are the issues which will win or lose the election for us. Despite all the harsh and unwarranted criticism from some social conservatives, all that Mitch Daniels is guilty of is having the sense to know that rising prices, fewer jobs, less income, fewer opportunities, the strangulation of over-regulation, and a federal government that is addicted to government programs and spending, is tearing American life apart and needs to be addressed first and foremost.

Daniels ability to realize that and his commitment to prioritizing it as job number one, needs to be appreciated, not shunned. And Daniels’  proven social conservative record should be understood by rational conservatives. It should earn him respect for his ability to successfully advance those issues dearest to movement conservatives, by speaking softly while carrying a big legislative pen that has brought to Indiana, the type of leadership they wish to see for our nation.

In the final analysis, Daniels’  louder  than words record on social conservative priorities is, beyond a shadow of any doubt, evidence of a strong cmmitment to the traditional values that the G.O.P. is supposed to represent. The fact that he has not turned his moral values into a national evangelical tour may not please some, but many of these same people still have more of a problem with Mitt Romney being a Mormon than they do with his Massachusetts healthcare plan. Such misplaced priorities and obvious lapses of judgment do not help us. They hurts us. However; Mitch Daniels has proven that he has the judgment to get the job done, both on those social conservative issues important to us and the fiscal issues that are also important to us and pivotal to winning the general election.

As for myself, I am not yet prepared to endorse Mitch Daniels for President. In addition to the fact that he is not yet even a candidate for President, I want the nomination process to be used to test our eventual nominee. And while I personally believe that Mitch Daniels is worthy of the nomination, I need him to prove himself worthy through the primary and caucus election process. What I don’t want though, is for him to be unfairly handicapped because he is not willing to play the role of Pope in a political process meant to elect a President.

As for those who unfairly attack Mitch Daniels, maybe it is time for them to reexamine their own words instead of trying to twist Mitch Daniels’ words. In February of 2007, Jennifer Rubin, one of Daniels’ harshest critics of late wrote the following regarding the 2008 Republican presidential field

“in 2008 we should reward the candidate who has the courage and introspection to grow and improve and not just play defense, point to the other guy’s or gal’s weaknesses, and say  I’m the best of the lot. Then we’d have an imperfect, but deserving winner.” – Human Events, 2/21/07

Rubin’s statement was right back then and is still right today. So perhaps it is time for her to take her own advice and reward Mitch Daniels for having the courage   to make the conservative movement which he is a champion of, aware of the need for the type of self-examination  they need in order to establish exactly how they intend to make a case to the American people that can defeat President Obama in 2012.

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