Mitch Daniels still coy about presidential aspirations

Another aspect to Daniels political persona which intrigues journalists is that he has publicly said that Republicans shouldn't get too focused on divisive social issues that frankly alienate independents, the most crucial bloc of voters in a presidential election. For that, he's been excoriated by many conservatives  - some running for office, many who sit behind a typewriter.

When asked that with the GOP beginning their first caucus/primaries in '12 in states like Iowa and South Carolina he has hurt his own chances, Daniels said in essence, why is everybody on my case for answering a question honestly?

MR. TODD:  Look, you have a great political mind.  You were in--you were one of the--in the political shop in Ronald Reagan's presidency.  Let's be purely pragmatic here.  Can a Republican running for president ignore social issues and succeed in Iowa, in South Carolina?

GOV. DANIELS:  I don't know.  I--you know, I don't sit around calculating the political pluses and minuses of every little word I utter.  I've--just sort of tell people what I think makes sense, and I'm prepared to respect disagreements.  I don't have any disagreements with these folks.  I happen to share their views, and I respect their passion.  You know, some of it, however, Chuck, comes to this:  Are you more committed to results or to rhetoric?  And in pursuit of the results that matter, that I think are fully consistent with a commitment to limited government and individual liberty and freedom in this country, I think we're going to have to do some very, very big things.  We're going to have to make changes, at least moving forward, that will permit us to maintain a growing economy and the American dream of upward mobility for folks at the bottom.  And we're going to have to get together people who disagree on other things.  That's all I've said.  So I respect those who disagree.  And it's ironic because, as the record will show, I've done the things that they say they'd like to do.

Daniels is an intriguing guy who has not put a deadline on when he will decide whether he'll get in the race.

The first scheduled debate amongst the prospective candidates running for the Republican Party nomination for President in 2012 will take place in just seven weeks, a joint effort NBC News & Politico, and will take place at the Reagan Library in Southern California.

Now can we get some candidates to be a part of it?

Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty are sure to announce soon, and Newt Gingrich...well, who knows what he will do considering the firestorm of criticism he's received for his lame excuse for why he's cheated on his wive(s)- but aides say supposedly he will announce in April.

A sexy choice for policy-wonks is the very nondescript Governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels, who declined to tell Chuck Todd on Sunday's Meet The Press what his plans are yet, but he is absolutely not ruling out a run.

Daniels is an big time deficit hawk, as all of the other GOP candidates are clamoring to be as considered as well.  Though he has to answer for the fact that he presided in the Bush administration as they began blowing up the federal deficit that only after Barack Obama's election became the major crises in our politics, Daniels begrudgingly admitted when asked by  Todd if the lesson about the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan that passed in 2003 is that there wasn't money to pay for it, said, ""yeah, don't offer what you can't pay for.  That'd be a good principle to return to in the federal government."

Todd also challenged Daniels about the GOP mantra that cutting debt will be a boost for job creation, mentioning that though Daniels has done plenty to balance his budget in his two terms running the Hoosier State, in fact unemployment is pretty high there;  Daniels responded:

GOV. DANIELS:  You could put up that same graphic for probably 48 or 49 states in America.  A national, catastrophic recession will do that to you. Before that recession started, we were at essentially full employment.  It was well below what it had been when we got there.  But, listen, you do what you can do.  On every measure—everybody's survey, everybody's rating—of a great place to invest and do business and create jobs, Indiana is now in the top tier.  It's the only state anywhere in our neighborhood.  It's basically us and a few Sunbelt western states.  And that's what government can do, create the best conditions you can.  But just as tsunamis overwhelm the best preparations, so do economic tidal waves like the one that we experienced and which we're still recovering from.

In his first day in office in 2005, Daniels signed an order ending collective bargaining with public employee unions. He said it freed him to turn over some state jobs to private contractors.  Because Indiana is a right-to-work state, that move obviously was made with considerably less fanfare than what is still happening in Wisconsin and their GOP Governor, Scott Walker.  Daniels told Chuck Todd that he does believe in collective bargaining, just not for public employees.

Scroll to read more News Feature articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.