Dear Mitch Daniels, Quit Playing Games With My Heart

While my head tells me Mitt Romney for our candidate in 2012, my heart is with Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels…which of course means he’s going to toy with my emotions. Most recently in a local paper Courier-Journal he said he’s NOT running for President. Then he said he’s not looking at ‘12 bid, but “if it’s an interesting subject in a few months, ask me then.”

This means he’s thinking aboot it, and it gives me an opportunity to draw attention to an article that came out during one of my laziness induced blogging hiatuses. Daniels was recently profiled in “The Economist,” where if you’re going to run on your fiscal bona fides, this is the magazine you want.

A few highlights…

Most Americans know little or nothing of Mr Daniels. He does not tweet. “I’m not an interesting enough person,” he explains. He is a Republican who had never heard of 9/12, Glenn Beck’s tea-party group, before The Economist mentioned it to him. But he is good at one thing in particular: governing…

Mr Daniels oozed with ideas. He introduced merit pay for public workers and performance metrics for state agencies. Indiana’s counties skittered illogically between two time zones, so he reset the state’s clocks. A toll road was losing money, so he oversaw a $3.85 billion lease to foreign investors. He was not dogmatic. In his first year he proposed a tax increase. He shrank the state workforce but increased the number of case workers for children. He passed a health plan that included private accounts for the poor…

Neo-cons are allergic to talk of defence cuts. Social conservatives were rabid after Mr Daniels, anti-abortion himself, told the Weekly Standard that he favoured a temporary truce on social issues. “It just happens to be what I think,” he says, arguing that politicians need to unite on urgent matters of national security and debt. He is also unlikely to fire up tea-partiers. “Didn’t somebody say in a different context, ‘Anger is not a strategy’?” he asked your correspondent over a rare plate of steak and chips.

It’ll be an interesting path for Daniels if he decides to run. Romney will probably take New Hampshire and Michigan, but I can easily see Daniels winning in Iowa. If he wins Iowa, he can with South Carolina, which would set up a Florida showdown.

Even if he runs and doesn’t win the nomination, a strong showing in a few of the battleground states would put in a position to be the running mate for whoever does run.

A Romney/Daniels ticket would be incredibly strong.

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