Hot on HuffPost:

See More Stories

The Case for Keeping Mitch Daniels on the GOP Short List for White House 2012

5 years ago
  0 Comments Say Something  »
Text Size
If Mitch Daniels ends up with a national career, it will be because he's the anti-Palin: All substance and, aside from his motorcycle habit, no flash.
The Indiana governor is on many Republican short lists for 2012, but he hasn't gotten there in quite the same way as other governors and ex-governors. He hasn't quit, published a book or signed a media contract, like former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska. Nor has he shifted on the political spectrum from mild-mannered moderate to sharp-edged conservative, as have former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and and Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, the better to rally activists such as those at last week's Conservative Political Action Conference.
No, he's more like other Republican governors on my personal list of the plausible and even admirable, but probably doomed. There's former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, burdened with his family name. There's former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, who raised some taxes and released too many prisoners. There's Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, who recently joked that "If you see me losing 40 pounds, that means I'm either running or have cancer." He used to be one of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington, not the ideal resume in these times. And now there's Daniels, a former federal budget director under George W. Bush, who keeps his rhetorical diet free of red meat.
CPAC, a traditional showcase for conservatives on the rise, drew the John Birch Society as a sponsor this year and libertarian Rep. Ron Paul of Texas won the CPAC straw poll. Daniels said he had "respectfully declined" an invitation to speak -- the latest of several -- even though he was going to be in Washington anyway for an overlapping National Governors Association meeting. "I don't do that sort of thing. I stay in my lane," he said. Not that he avoids all venues frequented by ambitious politicians. He made the remark to several dozen national political reporters Tuesday at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast.
In this ruminative setting, the small, trim, buttoned-down governor tried to explain how he feels about anti-tax, anti-spending Tea Party protests, CPAC and rabble-rousing in general. There are appropriate times for "rowdyism and barbs cast at the other side," he said. On the other hand, "the events of the last year have, I think, had their moments of excess." On the third hand, it's healthy that "so many citizens have become interested and a little better informed" about fiscal issues. And on the fourth hand, "it's clearly not sufficient -- raising hell never is."
Daniels said it is time to "move on from that awakening to an honest discussion" about what we can afford as a nation, and how to pay for it. He also said Republicans need to campaign to govern, not just to win. They need a credible program, he said, and "a tone that's friendly and inviting and that gives you some chance of unifying people around some action. If it has to be the second or third or fourth best action, all right."
Not exactly a partisan call to arms, and Daniels knows it. He calls himself "the longest of long shots," given the problems he'd have selling himself to the hard-line conservatives who vote in primaries.
Nobody would mistake Daniels for a liberal. He defends Bush's tax cuts as "absolutely right" for the economy and says, "It would be a big mistake to let them expire." At home, he has instituted merit pay for state employees and leased the Indiana Toll Road to a private company. He's annoyed that Sen. Evan Bayh made his retirement announcement too late for primaries, allowing Democratic officials to hand-pick candidates for senator and whatever offices open up down the ballot as they pluck people to run for higher office. It is, Daniels said, "a kingmaker's delight."
But on the less orthodox side of the ledger, Daniels has told fellow Indiana Republicans that he will not sign an overtly partisan redistricting plan from either party. He has expanded health coverage and all-day kindergarten and raised a tax or two since taking office in 2005. His administration last year fired IBM and took back control of the state's welfare program, an acknowledgment that privatization -- a conservative shibboleth -- was failing.
While other Republicans, such as Pawlenty, are under attack for calling the federal stimulus package useless and wasteful, even as they plead for the money and brag about creating jobs with it, Daniels is more nuanced. Some stimulus was fine with him, he said, but "the way they did it turned out to be mediocre."
While other Republicans, such as Sen. John McCain of Arizona, have made a career of attacking earmarks -- the sometimes undeserving one-point projects lawmakers tuck into big bills without a review process -- Daniels dismisses their budgetary importance. "You can erase every earmark tomorrow and we all know that doesn't fix anything. It ought to be done. It's a little start. It's the right thing to do. But that's a BB. And we have to shoot high-caliber solutions at these problems," Daniels said.
While other Republicans opposed a bipartisan deficit-reduction commission because they feared it would recommend tax increases as well as spending cuts, Daniels says the commission is "worth a try" and doesn't rule out new taxes. "The answer need not and should not include tax increases. That's an intellectually responsible argument," he said. "But the only thing that I think can be ruled out is continuing in our present barrel right over Niagara Falls."
Daniels is passionate about issues ranging from the deficit and terrorism to the infrastructure and making government work. Yet instead of planning a White House bid himself, he is trying to persuade others to run. "I don't plan to do it. I don't expect to do it. I really don't want to do it," he said. Asked why, he answered with another question: "Can't you name 100 reasons that no sane person would do this?" Topping his list was "the savagery of our politics."
A presidential race would be much different from the politics Daniels has practiced in Indiana. Despite a slip or two, he said, he has followed "a malice toward none" approach. He said he has never run a negative ad or 'hired mercenaries" to run a campaign. He tries, he said, to abide by what he often heard Ronald Reagan say when he was a senior aide in the Reagan White House: "Remember, we have no enemies, only opponents."
Talk of reason, compromise, civility and responsibility by an even-tempered, deliberative politician who is steeped in policy? Does Daniels remind you of anyone? He reminds me of President Obama. If Republicans want to make a real go of 2012, they ought to draft Daniels.
Outbrain - The Most Trusted Content Discovery Platform

Get Your Content Discovered.

Promote your content on premium websites

Learn More ›

Outbrain Amplify:
Get your content discovered

Your content will be promoted on the web's largest and most respected media properties, including CNN.com, Slate and ESPN. We make sure it's seen precisely when people will find it most interesting.

Learn More

Outbrain Engage: The solution for a modern publisher

Outbrain Engage is a full stack software solution that empowers an entire media organization to more effectively manage its online content and programming experience.

Learn More

The world's largest content discovery platform

We bring together premium publishers and marketers of all sizes (including many of the world's leading brands) into the world's largest and most vibrant content marketplace. Learn more about Outbrain ›

561 Million

The global audience reached by Outbrain each month*

190 Billion

The total recommendations we serve consumers monthly

80%

Of the world’s leading brands use Outbrain

* Audience reach according to comScore, September 2014. Leading brands via Ad Age DataCenter / Kantar Media, 2014.

Andy Blau
We selected Outbrain not only because the revenues were higher than others, but because its engine drives better recommendations than others.
Andy Blau
Senior Vice President, Group General Manager
Time Inc.
Dan Horowitz
It's less about buying traffic than it is about reaching the right people with relevant headlines to get them to your content.
Dan Horowitz
EVP and Senior Partner
Fleishman-Hillard Digital
Katrina Craigwell
Our goal is always to deliver content that adds value to the conversations being held by the end user. Outbrain allows us to do just that.
Katrina Craigwell
Global Manager of Digital Marketing
GE
Bailey Foote
The fact that we’re able to drive these kinds of transactions with consumers at scale and with increasing efficiency has made Outbrain paramount to our marketing strategy.
Bailey Foote
E-commerce Manager
The Line
Neal Moore
You cannot leave it to chance that someone will find and engage with your content. Outbrain can put your content in the midst of the world’s most prestigious publications.
Neal Moore
CEO
Click2View
Zach Zavos
Having links to our content appearing directly on premium publisher sites helped us establish our brand.
Zach Zavos
Co-Founder
Conversant Media
Mike Brito
Outbrain is one of those [critical] components helping us deliver the right messages to the right contingent at massive scale and in real time to counter a crisis.
Mike Brito
Group Director
WCG

A global footprint of service

We operate offices in 11 global territories and we partner with publishers and marketers in over 55 countries, including the U.S., UK, France, Brazil, India and Japan. Come join us ›

Our New Approach to Comments

In an effort to encourage the same level of civil dialogue among Politics Daily’s readers that we expect of our writers – a “civilogue,” to use the term coined by PD’s Jeffrey Weiss – we are requiring commenters to use their AOL or AIM screen names to submit a comment, and we are reading all comments before publishing them. Personal attacks (on writers, other readers, Nancy Pelosi, George W. Bush, or anyone at all) and comments that are not productive additions to the conversation will not be published, period, to make room for a discussion among those with ideas to kick around. Please read our Help and Feedback section for more info.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum Comment Moderation Enabled. Your comment will appear after it is cleared by an editor.

Follow Politics Daily

  • Comics
robert-and-donna-trussell
CHAOS THEORY
Featuring political comics by Robert and Donna TrussellMore>>
  • Woman UP Video
politics daily videos
Weekly Videos
Woman Up, Politics Daily's Online Sunday ShowMore»
politics daily videos
TV Appearances
Showcasing appearances by Politics Daily staff and contributors.More>>