Social War Threatens Daniels’ Truce

Governor Mitch Daniels has an opportunity to be a breakout star in the 2012 primary. He is seen by many to be reserved and quiet, but he has done an incredible job in Indiana and has caught the eye of many because of it.

Daniels has also caught the eye of independent groups as he has called for a truce on social issues to focus on the nation’s fiscal problem. This has caused many to see him as someone who can unite the country to face our debt head on. However, Daniels’ truce is about to receive it’s biggest test. In Indiana, state finances and social conservatism are about to collide.

The Indiana house and senate have overwhelmingly passed a bill that would end state funding for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, ban Medicaid from being used at facilities that provide abortion, and will require doctors to give women information on the abortion process from the fetus perspective before performing the procedure. The bill will save Indiana millions of dollars, but it will also turn social liberals sour on Daniels if he signs it.

Mitch Daniels faces a make or break decision

This is a moment of truth for this potential GOP nominee. The Indiana congress has the votes to override a veto. Mitch Daniels does not need to sign this bill. But whether he signs it or not, this decision will set the tone for a Mitch Daniels presidential candidacy. For someone who recommended a truce on social issues, Mitch Daniels has found himself standing in the center of the battle field with a gun in his hand. Which way will he turn?

This one decision has the potential to win or lose the TEA Party and religious base of the GOP. With that base, and the strong fiscal record he has already developed, Mitch Daniels would be lacking only a shot of charisma to sweep the 2012 primary. Without the TEA Party and religious base, Daniels’ best hope is a vice president spot on the ticket.

Considering his signature is not needed, this choice may seem inconsequential. With 2012 in view, this decision means everything. So far, Daniels has stated that he hasn’t made a decision yet on whether or not to sign the bill.

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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Mitch Daniels Urged To Decide Soon

Bookmark and Share An editorial in The Exponent, Perdue University’s student run newspaper, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is urged to make decision on whether or not to run for President, sooner rather.

According to the students at Perdue, “By drawing out his decision, Daniels is not helping the people of Indiana as their governor nor the rest of the country as a potential presidential candidate.”

That premise is based on what the student run newspaper claims is Daniels’ ability to bring more credibility to the race than the other Republican candidates. The thinking here is that Palin, Bachmann, and others Mitch Daniels is not about to go on a “crusade” against social issues. That may be so, but Mitch Daniels has never said that social issues won’t be discussed by him. He has merely pointed out that our nation’s fiscal woes should be the priority.

The editorial suggests that Daniels may make his decision to run known on May 4th, when he is scheduled to give a speech at the American Enterprise Institute.

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Daily Caller Calls it Well On Mitch Daniels

Bookmark and Share I am not big on using White House 2012 to simply repeat what has appeared elsewhere but a recent essay on Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels by Alexis Levinson of the Daily Caller warrants mention here.

Levinson offers a very insightful synopsis of Governor Daniels, the elected official, the candidate, and the man. The piece will at the very least, pique your curiosity about this rather understated man from Americas heartland and it will leave you understanding why Mitch Daniels will be a top tier candidate if he runs. For my part, while I have several horses in this race, Daniels is one of my favorites. In addition to being the perfect anti-Obama, Mitch Daniels is one of the few Republicans to consider for President who, as a candidate, would have many of the things that other candidates will lack but are wanting, and doesnt have many of the things that other candidates wish they didnt have but are stuck with.

In her piece Levinson does not by any means gives Daniels a free pass. She offers both the compliments and criticisms of both Daniels admirerers and detractors.But it also offers a glimpse of the type of political atmosphere which Mitch Daniels would bring into the room if he does actualy run for the presidential nomination. It is an article that should not be missed. Read it here.

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Mitch Daniels’ Victories in the Pacific Northwest. Real or Imagined?

Bookmark and ShareOn Sunday, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels won a straw poll of Republican leaders and activists at an annual meeting of the Oregon G.O.P.. Back in January, at a similar gathering in Washington State, Mitch Daniels won their straw poll too. It has been reported that these victories were achieved without any campaigning by Governor Daniels or any known organized effort on his behalf. So the question is, why is the Governor from the Midwest, so popular with the Republican establishment of the Pacific Northwest?

Interestingly, in both Washington and Oregon, there seems to be a bit of a consensus that it is Governor Daniels prowess with his state’s budget, and even more responsible than that, it seems to be his successful efforts in curtailing the abuses of big unions.

In an interview with White House 2012, when asked what accounts for Daniels’ popularity among Republican activists in the Northwest, Oregon National Committeeman and founder of the Republican National Committee’s Conservative Caucus, Solomon Yue, Jr., stated;

“I believe Northwestern Republicans appreciate the fact that Governor Daniels had used his executive order to strip state employee unions of their collective-bargaining power and the ability to collect dues by payroll deduction six years ago. He has achieved what most Republican governors are still fighting for – curtailing the collective-bargaining power of public-sector unions.”

Mr. Yue recently wrote a Washinton Times op-ed on Daniels’ handling of unions.

Yue is not alone in his thinking. On the condition of anonymity several Republican County Chairman in both Washington and Oregon, independently confirm Yue’s opinion as to why Daniels is popular among Republicans in the Pacific Northwest. One conservative Washington County Republican chair who voted for Tim Pawlenty in the January 31st straw poll, says that those who voted in the Republican gathering in Washington State, “looked at his [Mitch Daniels] ability to bring a state that had as a big a budget mess as Indiana, and bring it into good fiscal circumstances, and liked what they saw and voted for him” They add that what Daniels did Indiana “was impressive”.

The same G.O.P. leader also credits Daniels popularity in the region to the fact that the wave that the nation saw in 2010, didn’t make it to Washington state. They add, “Washington and Oregon have a substantial moderate influence in them”. Another point made was that the Republican conference in Washington that made Daniels the winner of their straw poll “had a higher percentage of young people in attendance and they are more moderate of what is typical.”

But a former Republican operative and leader in Washington State’s Pacific County has a different opinion. They tell White House 2012 the following;

“Mitch Daniels is not that popular in Washington and Oregon. He is relatively unknown.. except among political wonks.”

That same figureadds that those in attendance at the Washington and Oregon conferences “were NOT the Republican Committees that voted in a straw poll. They claim that these events…….

“were attended by a wide variety of center-right political activists. They are not part of the Republican Party. They are organized and sponsored by conservative and Republican political operatives”

Theformer leader and stillGOP insider adds;

“The attendees consist of politically minded people who favor fiscal conservatives. The nature of the conferences tends not to focus on social conservative issues. Hence, the people who attend are somewhat like the candidate.”

This explanation tends to make a bit more sense. For while Washington and Oregon may have their own problems with public service unions, they are no worse off than other states which are seeing similar problems. Therefore, I can’t see why the way Mitch Daniels handled unions in his state, would stand out so much more among Republicans in the Pacific Northwest than it does, say in the South or states like Iowa.

But the opinions I have gathered confirm a few things. First, they do make it clear that Mitch Daniels has a solid reputation among Republican activists on fiscal issues, a still most important one as we move closer to the 2012 election. It also proves that Mitch Daniels still has some problems with social conservatives. This is in itself odd because while Mitch Daniels actually has one of the most socially conservative records of all the possible Republican presidential contenders, he is not known for his political stances on those issues which he once famously stated that Republicans should “call a truce” on. That remark has hurt him among social conservatives who now doubt Daniels’ commitment to the issues important to them. While this may not help Daniels with the far right base of the Party, it does help him in what one Republican county chairman from Oregon calls their “moderate” base.

The funny thing is that the far right might eventually come to see strength in Mitch’s, ‘actions speak louder than words’ approach to their social agenda. They might also come to understand that what Mitch meant by his call for a truce, is that we must prioritize and right now the priority is jobs, our fragile economy, and our crushing national debt.

The fact that such things are a priority for Mitch Daniels are the very same reasons why the more moderate “higher percentage of young people” who attended the recent Republican gathering in Oregon, tend to support Mitch. It may also eventually be realized that if Republicans are going to remain competitive as we move forward, they will need these younger, more moderate voters behind them, as they are with Mitch Daniels.

Either way, Mitch Daniels’ straw poll victories in the Pacific Northwest are not necessarily representative of the opinion on the street, but it does show that he has some committed activists who may be important in organizing at the grassroots level. And while the results of the Washington and Oregon straw polls may not be a true precursor of things to come, one thing is quite clear, Mitch Daniels’ reputation on economic matters, budgets and his handling of unions, precedes him and it helps him. It helps among Republican of all stripes.

In Oregon, another Republican County leader who did not attend the recent Dorchester event where the Republican straw poll was taken, said she was “surprised” by the results but added “the more I learn about Mitch Daniels, the more I am impressed by him”.

It remains to be seen if the Daniels’ winning streak in the Northwest corner of the nation can be maintained elsewhere. Other straw polls of similar Republican activists in places like Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire have not produced the same winning results. But that could change if Mitch Daniels becomes an actual presidential candidate. However; that decision may now lie in the hands of Democrats in the Indiana state legislature. Mitch Daniels has promised not to make a decision on a run for President till the end of the Indiana state legislative session which is suppose to be in April. But now, thanks to a confrontation between them and Daniels on the issue of unions, Democrats are holding the Daniels agenda hostage and risk extending the legislative session too long for him to enter the presidential race.

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Mitch Daniels Wins Oregon Republican Contest

Bookmark and Share At an annual gathering of Oregon Republicans, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels won a presidential straw poll.

Of 225 votes cast, Daniels won 66 votes to Mitt Romneys 51 and Sarah Palins 41 votes.

In an interview with the Oregonian, Republican political consultant Rick Thomas accredited Daniels win to what he called wonky political insiders who are attracted to the conference.

According to reporter Jeff Mapes, Rick Thomas made it clear that Nobody really had any organizing going on at this point. At these type of state Party events straw polls are heavily campaigned at by the campaigns of the potential candidates who lobby participants for their vote. The fact that there was no coordinated effort behind the Daniels win, makes the results even more interesting. Could Mitch Daniels actually be rising to the top of the field naturally?

A few weeks ago, a similar straw poll in Washington state also produced winning results for Daniels.

The unmanaged coincidence of these results begs the question, what makes Mitch Daniels so strong among the G.O.P. activist base in the Northwest of the nation? The next question is can Daniels translate whatever is responsible for the results in Oregon in Washington, in other regions of the nation, like the North East, Mid-West and South.

If so, the G.O.P. could have itself a nominee and not even realize it yet.

Of course Mitch Daniels would have to run to become the nominee and although that decision was expected in April, it could be delayed or derailed by his state legislature which risks dragging out the legislative session which Daniels said would have to end before he makes a decision on the presidency.

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Mitch Daniels: Providing Economic Security Rather Than Hopeless Change in the 2012

Bookmark and Share As terrorism misleadingly fades from the headlines, and the lack of economic security and proliferation of national debt surpasses it as the greatest security threat to the United States, Americans are floundering in an almost hopeless sense of insecurity. This insecurity is made evident by such things as talk and fear of inflation, a double dip recession, continued unemployment rates that approach double digits, and in election results that have the American electorate erratically swinging firmly toward one political Party, and then the other, from one election to the next.

As such, as we approach the 2012 presidential election, it should be understood that aside from the intricacies and specifics of any one issue, the ability to exploit that overriding sense of insecurity is what may be the key to victory in 2012. While specifics are important and while the need for details and clearly laid out plans surely exist, todays attention deficit disorder dominated American society has a very short attention span when it comes to political minutia. This is indeed part of the reason why Hope and Change was so successful in 2008. Aside from then Senator Obamas desire to redistribute the wealth, most Americans, particularly younger Americans, relished the thought of hope and change and such phrases as redistribute the wealth lacked as much meaning to them than did the catchier Obama campaign slogan.

In 1980, while Ronald Reagan offered his own specifics, they were buoyed by his optimistic themes about restoring faith in America once again. Such thematic campaigns often win the day and in 2012, the same can again be the case by tapping into similar plays on our emotions. But whom among the potential names in the evolving Republican presidential field can do so on the issue of the economy, from a foundation so solid that their words can be believed and seen as more than just mere rhetoric?

Insofar as the issues du jour .the economy, the budget, debt, unemployment, etc, etc, several names have the ability to tap in to the economic insecurities that Americans have about our nations future. Haley Barbour and Rick Perry come to mind. So do the names of Jim DeMint and Jon Huntsman. All of these men are viewed as strong deficit hawks. Jim DeMint has accrued his record as such in the Senate while Barbour, Perry and Huntsman have put together records earning them that description as the Governors of Mississippi, Texas and Utah, respectively. Other names can also compete among them, but all those names bring to the table either aesthetics or other issues that will be hard to overcome in the reality of todays politics.

Barbours heavy Southern drawl oozes the type of White, Southern, Male, Confederate, image that can be hard to sell outside of Dixie. Governor Rick Perry has less of that same drawl, but enough to remind Americans of his predecessor, former Texas Governor and President George W. Bush. Selling another Texan so soon after G.W. may be another hard sell. Former Utah Governor and soon to be former Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman has different problems. Statements in support of gay rights and same sex marriage that he made as Governor of conservative Utah, may hamper his ability to overcome the social conservatives in his own Party. And while Jim DeMint would not have such a problem with social conservatives, he would certainly encounter an extremist image problem among the broader electorate.

All potentially powerful names on the economy come with their own unique set of drawbacks. Mitt Romneys superb business background and decent economic record in Massachusetts is drowned out by the creation of what is seen as the precursor to Obamacare. New Jerseys Chris Christie could be a promising prospect, but he has been in office for barley two years and continues to claim that short of suicide, he can do no more to make it clear that he is not running in 2012.

But there is one name among just about all others that lacks the baggage that others do not. One name simply radiates security and economic stability. One name should please TEA Party movement members, moderates and conservatives alike. It is that of Mitch Daniels, the two term Governor of Indiana.

Mitch Daniels is a quiet doer. He does not rattle the cages for the sake of making noise and he does not seek to be a revolutionary figure. He simply seeks to do things right and since becoming Governor of Indiana in 2004, Mitch Daniels has been doing everything right.

When he first assumed office, Daniels inherited 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. And while governments in most other states have increased in size, Mitch Daniels has shrunk both the size and cost of government. Currently the state its smallest number of state employees since 1983. And while reducing the existing size of government he also reduced the growth rate of state spending from 5.9 percent to 2.8 percent. All of which had much to do with his having once turned an $800 million deficit into a $1.3 billion surplus.

Governor Daniels has also created what is considered one of the best business environments in the nation and while Indiana has not been immune from the national recession and the double hit of Obamanomics, its unemployment rate has for the most part remained below the high national average. Such masterful handling of his own states economy can and will go very far in offering Americans the sense of economic security and leadership that they are crying out for but not finding.

It is part of the reason why Mitch 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, a majority of Indiana voters pulled the lever for Barack Obama for President. Furthermore; while more than 94% of all African Americans who voted, voted for President Obama, Mitch Daniels received 20% of those same African-American voters. That is an unusually high percentage 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.

Generally a low-key, unassuming man, Daniels doesnt package himself as some sort of political rock star. He is the anti-Obama who avoids the trappings of many politicians who invoke the expertise of handlers. He writes his own speeches, and in many cases, his own campaign ads too. And while his speeches may lack some of the jingoisms and flare that wrap his words up in brightly covered packages, he does speak from the heart and addresses the issues in quite substantive detail. But at the same time, Daniels speeches do convey an earthy, down-home, heartland appeal that President Obama lacks.

Daniels once stood before his state legislature and told them you dont know who was naked until the tide goes out. The remark was made in regards to the fiscal condition of Indiana, the state he has governed for 7 years now. It eluded to the fact that as the tides of the economies of the nation and Indianas neighboring states went out, Indiana was found to be wearing clothes while the others were naked. Those clothes were there because Mitch Daniels did not strip the people of Indiana of their economic future and security. The same can not be said of President. Which is why for all the right reasons Mitch Daniels is the perfect anti-Obama for Republicans to run in 2012.

In the final analysis, while there are far too many variables for anyone to accurately and confidently say who will actually be the Republican presidential nominee, I foresee the possibility of a scenario which could lead Mitch Daniels to not only the Republican presidential nomination but the presidency itself. But much of this scenario relies upon two factors. First is that President Obama continues to falter and that he fails to ever fully gain the confidence of the majority of American voters on two issues, the economy and his fervent liberal ideological bend. The other is that Mitch Daniels goes through a nomination process which ultimately proves him to be the true anti-Obama. It also relies on one other factor .the one that has Mitch Daniels actually throw his hat in the ring.

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