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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