The other week or so, I was having a kibitz at a YR event with our peerless leader aboot the upcoming 2012 primaries and the 217 or so people rumoured to be running. She knows I’m pro-Mitch Daniels, and the main question was whether he was electable or not.
Three main issues came up. The first is name recognition, when outside of Indiana only dorks like me know who he is. That can be overcome through campaigning and an insane amount of it. The second was if he “looked” presidential enough. While I understand that’s important, outside of Mitt Romney who comes out of central casting, I didn’t think any of them really “looked presidential.” That’s something for the consultants to figure out.
The third one was the one most important to me, and that once we get down to issues. The rub with Daniels is that, while he’s great on the economy, he recently angered social conservatives by calling for a “truce” on social issues. Everyone says you can win without the SoCons, but with all the focus on the economy in the past election…would that be true in 2011-12?
Here’s a snippet from a recent article in NRO…
Inheriting a $600 million deficit, Daniels transformed it into a $370 million surplus within one year, without raising taxes. “You’d be amazed how much government you’ll never miss,” he grins. Six years on, Indiana now enjoys a AAA bond rating, boasts the fewest state workers per capita in the nation, enjoys the third-highest private-sector job growth in the nation, has seen property taxes drop by an average of 30 percent, and was ranked first in the Midwest for business climate by the Tax Foundation. Daniels was named Public Official of the Year in 2008 by Governing magazine.
Daniels believes in improving government’s performance — cutting less-important spending in favor of more-important, and keeping close tabs on results. Under his leadership, the state has increased K–12 education funding by 12 percent, hired 800 new child-welfare workers, added 150 state troopers, provided free or reduced-price medications to 288,000 Hoosiers through the Rx for Indiana program, reduced wait times at the DMV to less than eight minutes, funded a $10 billion infrastructure-improvement plan to repair roads and bridges, and improved health care for low-income Hoosiers through the Healthy Indiana Plan, which encouraged healthy behaviors (and which may be unsustainable if Obamacare is not repealed).
To me, that’s an ideal Republican candidate. The flip-side to that is, after calling for the infamous “truce,” every time he even mentions a social issue it gets put under the microscope. Case in point…
He told 6News in Indianapolis that conservatives in the state legislature can move forward with pro-life legislation so long as it doesn’t distract from the economic and education-related legislation he prefers to push.
“As long as it doesn’t get in the way of the really crucial (objectives) — keeping Indiana in the black, improving our economy and bringing big reform to things like education. As long as it doesn’t get in the way of that, there’s plenty of time and capacity,” Daniels said.
Seems reasonable to me, but maybe not to other Republican primary voters who view socials issues more importantly than I do.
So what do we think? Will the social issues kill him? Or will a combination of the state of this country’s fiscal health and his economic experience matter more to voters?
Let me know. This is why blogs have comment sections. 🙂