Mitch Daniels was seen as a potential challenger to President
Obama until he opted out of running last year. After his rebuttal of
Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday, some GOP elites are
openly longing for a Mitch Daniels candidacy.
Mitch Daniels, Republican presidential nominee?
Once upon a time, that was a key Republican Party strategy to win
back the White House from President Obama. The two-term Indiana
governor decided early last year to not seek the party's nomination,
but the wishful thinking has only deepened after Mr. Daniels'
concise and reasoned GOP rebuttal Tuesday night to Mr. Obama's State
of the Union address.
"I could hear sighs all over the country from Republicans [about]
what might have been," conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer
told Fox News late Tuesday. "That was one of the best speeches I've
heard ... and I think it was one of the best presentations of the
conservative idea against the larger government of Obama."
Such accolades have not yet been heaped upon the two front-
runners in the Republican presidential race: former House speaker
Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
The first three GOP contests have not produced a definitive
winner, and the Republican leadership, in picking Daniels to deliver
the party's rebuttal on Tuesday, may be circling back to someone
they perceive as able to "bridge the gap" between the far right
faction of their party and the more doctrinaire establishment, says
Bruce Buchanan, who teaches presidential politics and public policy
at the University of Texas in Austin.
Daniels "strikes people clearly as a grownup ... [and] the fact
[that the Republican Party] invited Daniels and he accepted most
likely indicates some hopes of attracting him," Mr. Buchanan says.
Mr. Romney, who has a record as a moderate governor and whose
Mormon faith is worrisome to evangelical Christian conservatives,
and Mr. Gingrich, who resigned as speaker and whose marital
infidelities are no secret, are perceived in some quarters as
flawed. Compared with them, Daniels is largely free of controversy,
and he has a record of working with both parties and of taking
pragmatic positions on fiscal and social issues. He is also "more
comfortable in his own skin" and "pretty unflappable," which makes
him less prone to gaffes than Romney or Gingrich, says Buchanan.
Daniels also spent time in Washington, as director of the White
House Office of Management and Budget in the George W. Bush
The national Republican Party courted Daniels for the 2012 race,
but he bowed out last spring. His wife, Cheri Daniels, is reported
to have vetoed the idea, citing privacy concerns. Mrs. Daniels and
her husband divorced in 1993 and remarried four years later. In the
interim, she married and divorced another man in California and was
subsequently criticized for not sharing the responsibility of
raising the four daughters with Daniels, a charge the governor
publically said was false. …