Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels: The “Phantom” Republican Candidate For President

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has been gaining a lot of newsprint lately, hailed by George Will and David Brooks as the “best” candidate that the Republican Party could run for President.

Daniels has been coy about such a candidacy, saying that his family is not thrilled about his running, and that he has an important job facing him, as he continues as Governor of the Hoosier State.

But let’s look at Daniels and see what his positives are, to an outside observer.

Daniels has correctly brought attention to what he calls the new “Red Menace”, the term used in the struggle against Communism in the past. The new “red” is red ink, he declared, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, in what was called the best speech given by anyone at that gathering.

Daniels also suggested that the Republicans stop pursuing their social agenda on gay marriage and abortion, and focus on the economic crisis the nation faces, an idea which turned off social conservatives.

Daniels came across at that conference, and has otherwise, as rational and reasonable, and has avoided controversial statements and actions, unlike many of the other potential GOP candidates for President. He is, obviously, an intelligent, thoughtful man, which is a definite plus.

However, he has negatives as well as positives, including:

1. He lacks charisma, is not photogenic, and is only 5 feet 7 inches tall, none of it really important, but can be perceived as negatives for a Presidential candidate.

2. As Indiana Governor, as far back as 2005, he ended collective bargaining in the state by executive order, an action which is now seen as a negative in the middle of the controversy going on in several Midwestern states, most notably Wisconsin, but which has created new problems in Indiana, with demonstrations and demands for change on that issue.

3. As Budget Director under George W. Bush, the budget went through the ceiling because of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus an unfunded Medicare prescription plan, so his credentials on budgetary matters is compromised, when he speaks out on that issue now.

This whole discussion may be just an academic exercise, if Daniels decided not to run. In any case, were he to enter the race, it would, at the least, raise the level of intellectual discussion in the Republican Party, which right now has a list of potential candidates who seem more interested in controversy and confrontation than serious discussion of the important issue facing the nation, with the exception of Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman!

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