Don’t know Mitch Daniels? Start.

My post aboot how Chris Christie should NOT run for President started from a conversation with a friend who agreed, but felt he was all we had. Many people aren’t too impressed with our front runners (Mitt, Newt, Huck, and T-Paw) and are looking elsewhere. The more I keep thinking aboot a dark horse candidate for 2012, the more I keep coming back to Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.

Daniels is like a folksier, not as edgy version of Gov. Christie. Their policy prescriptions are nearly identical, while Christie is more quotable and Daniels for subtle. He easily won re-election in 2008 (a year Obama turned the state purple) and has a vocal supporter in’s Erick Erickson…and since we all blinded do what Erick tells us anyway (Rush is soooo 90’s), Gov. Daniels is worth a look right there. Little by little, editorial by editorial, I find myself starting to agree.

I will say that if I wasn’t a Mitch Daniels believer before, I am after reading the cover story in the recent Weekly Standard. It’s chock full o’ goodies, but it was the opening three paragraphs aboot “MitchTV” that really got my attention…

When Mitch Daniels ran for governor of Indiana in 2004, a friend and videographer got the idea of filming the candidate in vidéo vérité style as he traveled around the state in his Indiana-made RV. In both his campaigns for governor—in 2004, when he won a close race, and in 2008, when he won reelection against the Obama tide in an 18-point landslide—Daniels visited each of Indiana’s 92 counties at least three times, appearing in places that hadn’t seen a statewide candidate in generations, or ever. If he wasn’t riding the RV, he came to town on his custom-built Harley Davidson, a solitary aide trailing behind.

He insisted on spending every night on the road in the home of a local family. Nearly all the families were strangers to him. He slept in guest rooms, family rooms, dens, and children’s bedrooms, on bunks and foldout couches, with pictures of pop stars staring from the walls and an occasional Disney mobile dangling overhead, proving to the people of his state that he could sleep anywhere. He was bit by a pig and, later, a farm dog. For his website he wrote a day-by-day account of the places he went and people he met. He paid special attention to the quality of pork tenderloin sandwiches he found in the local bars and diners. Pork tenderloin sandwiches, the size of a platter, are unavoidable in Indiana, no matter how hard you try, and Daniels made it clear he didn’t want to try. Food became a theme of the campaign. The best dessert he’d discovered, he said, was a Snickers Bar dunked in pancake batter and, this being Indiana, deep-fried.

All of this was the stuff of what became MitchTV. Daniels said he was skeptical of having his every move placed under the eye of a crew with a handheld camera and a boom mike. The first line of the first episode is: “The first thing you need to know about this is, it was not my idea.” But it was a good idea. The campaign edited the video down to half-hour episodes every week and bought time in nearly every TV market in the state, on Saturday nights, Sunday mornings, and Sunday evenings. A typical episode received a five or six share, a rating that shocked everybody and translated into tens of thousands of regular viewers.

I’m not sure how that would work with a national campaign, especially when the media will be looking to destroy him since he’ll be the cat running against Obama with a (R-IN) after his name, but…damn! Talk aboot understanding the power of new media.

I highly suggest reading the entire article, which goes more in depth with his record as Governor of Indiana, as well as his background and career prior to that. Mitch Daniels just entered my final four.


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