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.

Bookmark and Share
Advertisements

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.

Bookmark and Share

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.

Bookmark and Share

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.

Bookmark and Share

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.”

Bookmark and Share

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.

Bookmark and Share
%d bloggers like this: