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February 7th, 2011

Number Eight: Mitch Daniels

By Craig Robinson

There are a number of people who are intrigued by a possible presidential run by current Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.  It’s easy to see why so many are intrigued.  Daniels won his 2008 re-election campaign by 18 points in a year when Obama spent millions and won the state.  Daniels’ victory was so decisive he even won his opponents own county by nearly 3000 votes.

So what is it that endeared Indiana voters to him?  Daniels is a hands-on governor who has delivered results.  He’s balanced the state’s budget, pushed for ethics reforms, cut taxes, and used a common-sense approach to limit the size and scope of state government.

He also cornered the market on a four letter word that dominated the 2010 campaigns, and it’s likely to be the case again in 2012 – JOBS.  If Jobs are the main issue,  a candidate like Daniels is going to have plenty of traction in a presidential race.  As a sitting governor who cannot run for re-election due to term limits, Daniels can speak with authority about the issue because of what he’s done in his own state.

Daniels also isn’t afraid to consider tax increases or contemplate raising the age in which someone can receive social security benefits.  It’s apparent that everything is on the table for Daniels, and while that probably make for a great manager of government, those traits are likely to haunt him as a presidential candidate.  He will also be haunted by his repeated calls for a truce on social issues while the country contends with its financial crisis.

His proposed truce on social issues didn’t set will with social conservatives.  Even thought Daniels has a solid prolife record, his call for a truce has put such a sour taste in the mouths of those who have been fighting for life and traditional marriage that Daniels is going to be treated like he’s a pro-choice candidate.  To some extent, this was the case for Ron Paul in 2008, who’s anti-war foreign policy made some people believe that he was liberal on social issues.

Here in Iowa, Daniels already has one big fan in Governor Terry Branstad.  Branstad modeled his campaign after what Daniels has been able to do in Indiana and even talked about Daniels on the campaign trail.  However, the connection between Daniels and Branstad runs much deeper than that.  Branstad’s media consultant was Kim Alfano.  Alfano Communications just happened to be Daniels’ former media consultant.  If Daniels does run, and chooses Alfano to produce his media, she will have a firm grasp on the issues that Iowans care about.

Daniels will have his work cut out for him in Iowa.  While some very key people would be eager to support his candidacy, he’s basically unknown to most caucus goers.  That means Daniels would need to spend ample time traveling the state and introducing himself to voters.  The longer he waits to wade in to Iowa political waters, the more difficult it’s going to be for him to find support here.

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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