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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Courage, Vision, Results. Has Mitch Daniels Time Arrived?

Bookmark and Share On Friday, Mitch Daniels tweeted a link to a new video ad (see video below this post). The ad takes one through a year by year list of the Governors accomplishments in Indiana. It was produced by the Indiana Republican State Party but it is pretty obvious that Mitch Daniels is not too shy to promote that which promotes him. The timing of the ad can of course be credited to the recent conclusion of this years state legislative session in Indiana. But it also comes at a time when the governor is preparing to announce his intentions regarding a run for President.

While the release of the ad actually occurred days before the field changing decisions of first Huckabee on Saturday and then Donald Trump during Monday afternoon, it happened to come at a perfect time. With the recent trend for declining to challenge President Obama in 2012, Mitch Daniels who has promised to make a decision any day now, has the perfect chance to jump in to the race at a time when the void in the 2012 Republican field seems to be at the greatest it has been, or will be. According to polls, support for Huckabee and Trump accounts for one third of the support shared among the likely Republican presidential candidates. This third of the electorate is now homeless. They have lost their hero and are in desperate need of a new one.

Aside from their original choices of Mike Huckabee or Donald Trump, the names they have had to choose from so far, obviously do not sit well with these former Trump and Huckabee wannabe voters. That is especially the case when it comes to the now clear frontrunner, Mitt Romney. As such, the next few days present themselves as a perfect time and opportunity for Mitch Daniels to declare with bold confidence, that someone must step forward to properly confront and solve the problems that we face, and that he is the one willing and able to do that.

The new ad that Governor Daniels tweeted to the world, sets the stage for such an announcement. It touts such timely and pertinent accomplishments as his taking Indiana from bankruptcy to a balanced budget within the first year of taking office. It outlines his establishment of affordable health insurance for thousands of uninsured, reducing the size of state government by 40%, producing the largest tax cut in state history, creating a 1% cap on property taxes and bringing about the lowest property taxes in the nation. The promo lists other accomplishments that include record breaking job creation, the lowest per capita rate of state employees in America, breakthroughs that have allowed Indiana to evaluate and pay teachers based on merit not seniority, the largest school voucher program in the nation, the first Triple A credit rating in state history, five consecutive years of budgets that were in the black, and the receiving of titles such as Public Official of the Year and the state with the best tax environment in the Mid-West.

In all, the ad defines Mitch Daniels as a success in every area that President Obama is not. On the most pressing issues of the day, the new Mitch Daniels video establishes him as the man who can best address them.

As you can tell, my enthusiasm for Mitch Daniels is quite high. However; it remains restrained. While I have come to appreciate his leadership, I still need Daniels to prove himself in a sincere battle for the hearts and minds of loyal conservatives.

And at the same time while for many, the emerging Republican presidential field has so far failed to produce a most likely nominee, I have warned that even if Mitch Daniels does not become a candidate and the likely established Republican presidential field were to consist of no names other than those who we currently know are definitely running, one of them can and will surprise us with the ability to develop the type of enthusiastic support that the magic of a well run campaign can produce. Of each of those names that we know with any certainty are running, each possess qualities and the type of promise that can fill many of the voids that the leadership of our current President has created. Between Romney, Pawlenty, Santorum, Gingrich, and even Herman Cain and other lesser known names, is an incredible opportunity to create a campaign that Republicans can in time enthusiastically rally behind and that can successfully exploit the failings of President Obama.

It is for that reason that I have consistently shunned the mainstream medias proliferation of attempts to characterize the developing Republican field as feeble or insignificant and in desperate search of an accomplished political giant who can be willingly recruited into the race and save the G.O.P. from certain defeat in 2012. This was the same complaint issued in regards to the 1992 crop of Democratic presidential candidates. That field consisted of former California Governor Jerry Moonbeam Brown, Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, Former Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas, former Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder, a brief flirtation by former Democrat presidential candidate and Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy and a little known governor of Arkansas named Bill Clinton. For the longest part of the nomination process, together, these men comprised a group that became dubbed as the seven dwarves.

Ultimately, the contest surprising came down to a surprising race between the unlikely Paul Tsongas and the scandal plagued Arkansas Governor. But after a few initial primary and caucus losses, Bill Clinton took the title of Comeback Kid and ran with it all the way to two terms in the White House after defeating an incumbent who once viewed as unbeatable. Clearly time and an ability for a campaign to tap into existing discontent, can make a star out of anyone. And the 2012 republican nomination contest will be no different.

Yet some stars are more easily branded than others. Such is the case with Mitch Daniels. While I see great promise in candidates like Romney, Gingrich, Herman Cain, and still even possibly Sarah Palin, each of them, as well as all the others that I did not mention, carry with them distinct baggage that will create hurdles on their road to the White House, that while not insurmountable, are definitely troublesome obstacles to struggle with. But in the case of Mitch Daniels, although he is not perfect, what makes him stand out in a potential field of 2012 Republicans is not just what he brings to the table, but what he doesnt bring to the table. He does not bring with him a state government plan of mandates that contradicts the small government philosophy he represents. He does not bring the issue of repeated marital infidelities that rightly or wrongly will be used to suggest that he contradicts his own representation of strong families and strong values. Mitch Daniels does not bring to the table the type of guttural hate that Sarah Palins meteoric rise to fame, caused the left to weigh her down with in a relentless stream of unflattering caricatures, unfavorable descriptions, unsavory rumors, and an endless array of unsubstantiated allegations.

Daniels also does not bring any doubts about his ability to develop a strong national organization, establish a fundraising operation strong enough to be competitive with the Presidents unprecedented war chest. And he does not bring a reputation for endless partisanship that caters to any single wing of any single Party or special interest. Of course, Daniels will be criticized by social conservatives for not claiming that government intervention in to social issues is not the nations most critical concern at the moment, but his record of favorable accomplishments in such areas should please them quite well.

When everything is said and done, whether the Republican public realizes it yet or not, Mitch Daniels is in my estimation the near perfect candidate that they are looking to run against President Obama. But Republican voters will never begin to come to that realization if there is not a Daniels campaign that gives them the opportunity to learn that. And now is the time for Mitch Daniels to let that learning process begin. Mitch Daniels time has indeed arrived. Now he must just take advantage of it.

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Daniels-Rice 2012? Not a Smart Answer at This Stage In The Game

Bookmark and Share After his wife gave the keynote address at an Indiana Republican State Party fundraiser, Governor Daniels accepted an invitation for drinks with 55 members of the highly active Students for Daniels presidential draft effort. The casual sit down took place at a bar several blocks away from the Marriot location where the state G.O.P. dinner was held.

The get together featured one on one conversations with members of the group and the main topic of discussion prompted by the Governor consisted mainly of hearing about what the college students plans for their own futures were. But it was reported by the conservative outlet The Weekly Standard that one student asked the Governor who he would lean towards selecting as a Vice President. Stipulating that his answer was only hypothetical, he offered up the name of former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice as someone whom he wouldlike to pick.

While certainly not a declaration of who he would pick as his running mate if he were to run for and win the Republican presidential nomination, the choice affords us a positive glimpse of the Governors strategic political thinking and an indication of an instinct that does not bode well for his relationship with the conservative base of the Party that is needed to win the nomination.

On the political and strategic fronts, the most telling aspect about Daniels off the cuff favoritism of Condi Rice as a running mate, is a clear indication of Mitch Daniels continued close ties to the former political organization of President George W. Bush and that Mitch Daniels is concerned about his own lack of foreign affairs credentials. Apparently while Daniels is quite confident in his ability to win people over on matters of the budget and the economy, he is well aware of the need to establish an overall ability to cover all the bases if he became the Republican candidate for President. The addition of Condoleeza Rice to a Daniels candidacy would certainly go a long way in bringing the type of foreign affairs credentials that can compensate for any perceived lack experience that Daniels might have in that area.

But as much as a Rice vice presidency might help Daniels to cover all the bases in a general election for President, among Republicans, her selection would also become explosively divisive. On Rices supposed strong suit, foreign affairs and national security, many conservatives, particularly neo-conservatives, claim that as Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice opposed the surge in Iraq that ultimately turned our effort there around for the better. But at the same time, Rice was a proponent of the Clear, Hold, Build, Strategy in Iraq that Secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush opposed. In the end it was this strategy which proved to be the key to the successful use of those deployed in the surge

While neo-cons will have a mixed argument for and against Rice, social conservatives will be less divided in their opposition to her. For social-conservatives, Rice has gone on record with a position on abortion that they view as unacceptably pro-choice. While she holds her own personal opposition to abortion, she states that she is uncomfortable with the federal government being involved in the issue, however she does support parental consent and opposes the practice of late term abortions. Still, this will not satisfy the hardcore movement conservatives who already doubt Daniels commitment to traditional conservative positions on social issues.

This is something which if Daniels did become the presidential nominee, would erupt into very public disruptive divisions at the Republican national convention. And no matter how it was handled at the convention and in the days to follow, the selection of a pro-choice Vice President and the aggressive opposition to such a decision would dominate headlines and overwhelm the very economic issues that Mitch Daniels could win the election on, by relegating them to obscurity. Although the media frenzy that would ensue upon the creation of a such a deep division within the G.O.P. would eventually die down, it would still successfully halt any momentum coming out of the convention and ultimately, on Election Day, leave a small but significant number of conservatives staying at home and not voting, or voting for a third Party candidate.

At the same time, the selection of a pro-choice Vice President on the Republican ticket will not persuade any pro-choice Democrats or Independents to vote Republican.

Of course it is very possible that Condoleeza Rice could change her position and decide that the government should be involved in the issue of life. Mitt Romney did. That would not necessarily make Right-to-Life voters support Rice for Vice President, but it would do much to prevent them from opposing her having the number two spot on the ticket.

Either way, what is most important to understand here, is that Mitch Daniels made a big mistake by answering the question about who he would hypothetically like to pick as his running mate. The issue is one that is totally inappropriate as a topic of discussion for someone who has supposedly not yet made a decision about whether or not they will even be in a position to select a running mate. And in the case of Mitch Daniels specifically, after all the skepticism that his remark about having a truce on social issues produced among the conservative base of the G.O.P., to inject the controversy of a pro-choice running mate into the primary debate, was a horrible political misstep.

As a conservative who hopes that Mitch Daniels can prove himself in an open and honest debate and contest for our support, I know that Mitch Daniels is conservative both fiscally and socially. His record speaks much louder than any words do. The last people in the world that have been placated or pleased by the decisions Mitch Daniels made, are those of the likes of Planned Parenthood, NARAL, or big unions. On social issues, he has been one of the most reliable and productive leaders that conservatives have. But it is the perception created by a twisting of his words which makes any campaign by him for the support of the social conservatives, an uphill battle. In my estimation, Mitch Daniels can certainly overcome any steep hills, but he need not unnecessarily burden himself with baggage that will make his climb to the top of the mountain a longer and harder process. Affording the opportunity to let slip that a pro-choice running mate is your preferred choice for a running mate did not make things any easier and was totally unnecessary.

Not only do we not know how much serious consideration Daniels gave to his response to the question of who he would pick for Vice President, no one even knows if Condoleeza Rice would willingly allow herself to be considered for the position.

But now, it doesnt matter. Like it or not, this casual but private, hypothetical answer to a hypothetical question, will come up again, and again, and again. By answering the question, Daniels just injected Condoleeza Rice in to the 2012 presidential election, and he did so at a time, and in a way that wont help him much.

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Handling of Cheri Daniels Speech is Quite Telling About Governor Daniels’ Decision

Bookmark and Share Over 1,100 Republican activists crammed the Indianapolis Marriot for an annual G.O.P. fundraiser that featured Indiana First Lady Cheri Daniels as the keynote speaker. The mere fact that Cheri Daniels accepted such an engagement fueled speculation about the likelihood of her husband, Governor Mitch Daniels, leaning towards a run for President.

Cheri Daniels’ 6 year tenure as Indianas First Lady has been marked by her reluctance towards participating in major public appearances. While she has been an active First Lady who has spearheaded literacy efforts, promoted volunteerism, and religiously participated in Indiana traditions like it state fair, the political spotlight is something that she has shied away from. Given that history, with about a year left to her husbands term limited tenure as Governor, Cheris delivery of a speech at a major, purely partisan political event, seemed uncharacteristic of someone getting ready to retire to private life.

But despite the suspicion stirred by her accepting to give the keynote address at the State G.O.P. fundraiser, as promised by the Daniels camp, the speech itself did not give any hints about what Governor Daniels has described as his familys decision to run for President. Keeping in her nature, Cheri Daniels delivered a purely non-political speech that took listeners on a tour of everyday life in Indiana as seen through her eyes.

Prior to that verbal tour, to chants of Run Mitch, Run, amid a sea of green and white signs that read the same and were being waved with frantic enthusiasm, Governor Daniels took to the stage to introduce his wife. In his remarks, he stated that despite the expectations of others, they would not be hearing any news on the presidential front. The same point was mentioned by Mrs. Daniels in her own opening remarks as she indicated that those who were in attendance for such a reason, would be terribly disappointed.

Still though, as the evening unfolded, the question of whether or not Governor Daniels will run for President was the ever present elephant in the room and by nights end, that elephant only grew bigger with the Daniels camps aggressive attempts to avoid the question. As seen in the video report below, members of the Governors staff stopped short of using physical force to dissuade reporters from asking Cheri Daniels any questions about the Governors decision.

This strong handed approach to avoiding the question raises a methinks thou doth protest too much syndrome that is indicative of the intention to eventually carry out a well designed announcement and roll out of a presidential candidacy.

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Mitch Daniels Makes a Point To President Obama?

Bookmark and Share Before President Obama delivered a speech in Indiana, on the economy, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels caught up with the President as he got off of Air Force 1.

It is not yet been disclosed what the two men, and possibly two opponents for the presidency in 2012 spoke about and we’ll probably never know. The standard answer to that question in politics is “I will not discuss the private conversations I have with someone”.But in what was either a stroke of genius on the part of Governor Daniels or just a perfectly timed stroke of luck for him, an AP photographer snapped a shot of the two engaged in conversation, that implies a thousand strong words for a potential Daniels campaign. As seen below, the photo gives the impression of a confident man sending a strong message to the President. It can almost be construed as though Daniels is “setting the President straight” on something.

Photos by Charles Dharapak/AP

From the smile on the Presidents face, I am sure Mitch Daniels was not being in anyway disrespectful or out of line. Knowing the nature of Daniels, he was probably telling him a joke that was only enhanced by the pointing finger. But Mitch Daniels is quite a shrewd man and he knew that many highly publicized photos would come from this briefmeet and greet. As such, Daniels may have quite intentionally created a situation where his finger in the Presidents face was perfectly natural and appropriate in regards to the discussion he was having . But at the same time, he knew that the image of that one moment in time, could help create the impression of a man who is not afraid to speak his mind and set the President straight, something which many Republican primary and caucus would love to do themselves.

Whether the finger pointing gesture was designed or not, the image speaks louder than words, even if we dont really know what the image is really a reflection of. In many ways this seemingly innocuous image could become one of those totally unexpected turning points.

Who could forget this image:

This picturewas taken during a photo-op that the Dukakis campaign intended to use in order to convey the Massachusetts Governors military gravitas. But its actual translation wound up creating a clown-like impression that made it seem like Dukakis could not be taken seriously as a Commander-in-Chief.

Images that happened to have been caught at just the right moment, have helped to change the course of many events in history, be they intentional or accidental. So I would not just write off this photo of Mitch Daniels addressing the President. Eventually, be it by design of a future Daniels presidential campaign, or through a proliferation of its reproduction in the blogosphere, this picture could at some point be responsible for sealing just the right image of Daniels in the minds of Republican votersand possiblymake the difference in who they nominate to run for President.

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Will the Killing of bin Laden, Effect Mitch Daniels’ Decision to Run for President?

Bookmark and Share Although the recent events that led to the execution of Osama bin Laden are likely to postpone any announcement to run, they do not seem to have become a factor in Mitch Daniels’decision itself. In fact, the Indiana Governor isdefinitely still seriously considering a run for President and he is doing so in a way that is bit more obvious than in the past. During a Tuesday morning interview with Fox News, Daniels admitted to recently discussing the issue with former President George W. Bush, but he refused to divulge the details of that discussion.

In the same Fox interview, when asked if he would like to run, Daniels responded;

“Would I like to? No,” . “What sane person would like to? I’m not one of those peoplethat sat around scheming and dreaming [about running for President]. I’ve agreed at the behest of a lot of people to give it some thought.”

Daniels is a rather humble and understated gentleman. That being the case, it is more than likely true that he has not spent his adult life cutting throats and stabbing people in the back in an attempt to climb the political ladder of power. He has also probably not been carrying out his gubernatorial agenda in Indiana around the desire to craft a perfect platform to launch a presidential candidacy from. In other words, Mitch Daniels has been quite sincere in his politics. He has stood for what he believes in and what is best for the people of his state. Such sincerity is admirable and even desired. But does such sincerity allow one to be elected President?.

As noted by Governor Daniels close friend, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, you must have a real fire in the belly to run for President. Barbour claimed that he was unsure that he had a big enough fire in his belly to go for it himself. And by all indications, Mitch Daniels does not either. He openly admits that running for President is not a passion of his.

YetDaniels sincere passion for the issues still allows him to continue to contemplate a presidential run. He has made it clear that if the G.O.P. field lacks a candidate that he believes can address, prioritize, and advance the solutions to our dire debt and economic problems, that would force him to run. So the question becomes what factors would qualify for determining thatall the existing potential candidates lack the ability to address our economic problems? One must also ask that if he is still considering a run for President, does that mean that he is convinced that other likely and possible candidates such as Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and others cannot properly address these problems? Or is he simply not convinced that any of these names can beat President Obama?

If Mitch Daniels is anything, he is a realist and as realist, his decision is more than likely a mix of both his sincere passion for the issues, along with politics. This is why he is consulting with people like former President Bush. Daniels must decide if what he brings to table canfill any needed voids and if he and his leadershipqualities can catch on to the type of popular enthusiasm that will allow him to consolidate the Republican base, and enough ofthe generalelectorate, to be not only competitive, but to win. Daniels character and apparent hesitance to run makes it painfully obvious that he does not want to run simply for any fame or fortunes. He is not considering a run to make a specific point or for the purpose of insuring that his name is considered for a cabinetposition in the next presidential Administration. It is clear that Daniels will only run if he is quite confident in his ability to not only win the Republican presidential nomination, but to win the presidency as well.

Given that Mitch Daniels has, out of fairness to his supporters, promised to make his decision sooner rather than later, the current indifference concerning the evolving Republican presidential field makes it quite possible for him to automatically become a frontrunner with strong odds for success. So between timing and the criteria he has set for a presidential candidacy of his own, the likelihood of Daniels presidential campaign seems quite good at the moment. However if such a decision to run is going to be announced anytime soon, it is not likely to occur this week when he makes a major speech on education at American Universityon Wednesday.

To announce that one will try to eventually oppose President Obama during a week when the nation is euphoric over President Obamas single greatest, bipartisan, achievementthe capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, would be an indication of a severe lack of good political instincts. If Daniels is to make announcement any this week, it would be to declare himself to not be a candidate for President. Anything other than that would be extremely poor timing. This week, politics is owned by President Obamas and the issue that makes it his, deserves to play itself out before we return to blatant partisan politics. For this reason, if Mitch Daniels has not yet made up his mind, he has more time to do so.And even if he hascome to adecision, do not expect it to be announced for another two or three weeks.

I personally believe Mitch Daniels will run. If he does not intend to run and knows it, he has nothing to gain from postponing the announcement of that decision. And within the self-imposed timeframe he has made to announce a decision, there remain few factors or conditions that could change the criteria which has caused Daniels to still continue consider a run for the presidency.

That, in addition to the promise of his candidacy gives me hope. The G.O.P. and the nation will only benefit from his candidacy. While there are in fact a number of competent and even promising candidates, the addition of Mitch Daniels in to the contest will force an intense debate on the issue that poses a greater threat to our nation than terrorism had. Our national debt is so severe that it has seeped its way in to therealm of national security . And it is on our national debt and the budget and economy that revolve around it, that Mitch Daniels is of the stature that makes him a leading national voice. For that reason, his input in the presidential election process is quite valuable.

But beyond that, the very qualities that may make Mitch Daniels an unlikely presidential candidate, are the same qualities which may make him the perfect person to run against Barack Obama. Unlike Obama, Mitch Daniels has not plotted a path to the White House all his life. He has not spent years of basing decisions and votes on positioning himself for higher office. He has not carried out his responsibilities, bethey as an aide to Ronald Reagan, as a national budget director, or as a Governor, for the purpose of obtaining the spotlight and getting national attention. Instead he has a lifetime record of committing himself to his beliefs and responsibilities, and doing a good job for the sake of the people he does the job for. Mitch Daniels lack of drive for self-promotion is uncharacteristic for a politician, but it is also the sign of a needed quality that many of our political leaders lack ..sincerity.

Mitch Daniels sincerity may just prove to be his most attractive quality as a candidate. He puts the issues before himself and brings more substance than flash to the table. Yet he has a capacity to appeal to people by connecting to them through his vision, his confidence, and a down-to-earth mannerism which makes people comfortable with him. Indeed these are the very qualities which allowed him to win a landslide reelection in Indiana. That despite the fact that his 2008 reelection as Governor occurred during a very anti-Republican year and in a state that went for President Obama at the top of the ticket.

All of this makes Mitch Daniels the true anti-Obama and if President Obama and his policies remain as unpopular as they have been till now, nominating a candidate that contrasts President Obama in as many ways as possible, may be the best way for the G.O.P. to go.

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Haley Barbour Will Not Be a Candidate for President

Haley Barbour

Barbour Out

Bookmark and Share In what is undoubtedly one of the most important decisions to date that has been made in the evolving Republican presidential nomination contest, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has today issued a statement announcing that he will not be a candidate for President in 2012. Barbour credits his decision to an uncertainty about the “fire in the belly” that he has for the job of President. He notes that the job requires a ten year committment “to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else.” He adds that his supporters deserve no less and without complete certainty for such a committment on his, he can not persue it in good conscience. (see complete statement below this post)

The announcement frees up much of the money and support that up to now how his by tied up by the possibility of a Barbour candidacy. As the ultimate political insider, Barbour’s ties to the G.O.P. establishment has helped to keep many from picking sides in the evolving race and fromplacing money behind any of the emerging candidacies.

WhileBarbour’s potential run has done little to keep any wiling Republicansfrom getting in to the race,this announcement will have a profound effect on Mitch Daniels, the popular, term limited Governor of Indiana.

Governors Daniels and Barbour are close personal friends. The two men go way back to the days of the Reagan Administration. With Barbour out, the chances that Daniels is in has increased ten fold.

Daniels has proven himself to be aneffective and exemplary conservative leader but his greatest quality is his prowess with numbers and budgets and conservative economics. He is a budget guru whois the total anti-Obama and a perfect potential Republican nominee. But Daniels has not been eager to declare his own candidacy. Instead he insisted that he is serious considering it and will essentiallymake who is or isn’t running, the determining factor. According to Daniels, if the right leadershipwith the right solutions to the greatest problems facing this nation, do not present themseleves, than he will be inclined to run. With his friend Haley now out of the race and out of the way, Daniels is free to decide that the right leadership has not yet presented itself in the emerging Republican field, and so he will in fact run.

In a recent post, I concluded that even if Haley Barbour runs, Mitch Daniels will too. The fact that Barbour is not running, makes it much more likely that Daniels will. According to Governor Daniels, that decision will come soon after the Indiana concludes its legislative session.

As for exactly why Haley Barbour has decided agaisnt his presidential bid,it is not likely that he doesn’t have the “fire in the belly” when it comes to the presidency. Barbour is a political animal who thrives on politics, both the campaining and the legislative and policy back and forth. Part of the decision has more to do with the lack of traction that his potential candidacy has been gaining. Despite aggressive behind the scenes campaigning especially in South Carolina and Forida, the Governor has not been racking up substantial support and his poll numbers have been unable to break the low single digits. As such, Barbour is most likely telling the truth when he calims he is uncertain about just how committed he is to a campaign. For while Barbour certainly has obsatcles in between him and the White House, they are not insurmountable. But Haley Barbour and his family have probably concluded that they may not have the desire to work as hard as it might require to overcome them.

Haley Barbour’s Statement

“I will not be a candidate for president next year. This has been a difficult, personal decision, and I am very grateful to my family for their total support of my going forward, had that been what I decided.

“Hundreds of people have encouraged me to run and offered both to give and raise money for a presidential campaign. Many volunteers have organized events in support of my pursuing the race. Some have dedicated virtually full time to setting up preliminary organizations in critical, early states and to helping plan what has been several months of intensive activity.

“I greatly appreciate each and every one of them and all their outstanding efforts. If I have disappointed any of them in this decision, I sincerely regret it.

“A candidate for president today is embracing a ten-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else. His (or her) supporters expect and deserve no less than absolute fire in the belly from their candidate. I cannot offer that with certainty, and total certainty is required.

“This decision means I will continue my job as Governor of Mississippi, my role in the Republican Governors Association and my efforts to elect a new Republican president in 2012, as the stakes for the nation require that effort to be successful.”

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