New Book Portrays Gov. Daniels’ Role, Considerations in 2012 Presidential Election

Oh, don't we all just love political gossip? That's kind of rhetorical, because most of us do.

Disappointing as it was for many Hoosiers, then-Gov. Mitch Daniels opted not to run for president in 2012, despite the fact that many thought he had an excellent chance of defeating President Obama. However, a new book, "Double Down: Game Change 2012," elaborates on the role Daniels did play in the election. Excerpts from the Indianapolis Star report are below. (And Star columnist Matthew Tully reported on Twitter that HBO will be making a movie based on the book, and speculation has started on who will play Daniels. Feel free to list your preferences in the comments section!)

As was extensively reported at the time, Daniels’ wife and daughters had no interest in his running or becoming president, and he ultimately deferred to them.

The book provides new details of Daniels’ consideration of his own bid, and how he tried to recruit others to run to prevent the nomination from going to Mitt Romney.

The authors of the book describe Daniels as viewing Romney as a “preprogrammed automaton” with a “plutocratic demeanor.” Those he tried to recruit as an alternative included Fred Smith, the founder and head of FedEx, and former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, the book says.

Daniels also consulted with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour as each tried to persuade one of the others to get in.

When Daniels went to Dallas for the 2011 Super Bowl, George W. Bush made a personal pitch, according to the book. In addition to saying that his fundraisers would likely back Daniels, Bush also addressed Daniels’ family concerns. Bush said, according to the book, that his wife and daughters hadn’t wanted him to run, but it worked out great for them.

Daniels also got encouragement from Bush operative Karl Rove and from 2008 GOP nominee John McCain, the book says. Others he expected would be in his camp included former Vice President Dick Cheney, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

And Daniels got the attention of Democrats with a 2011 speech to a national gathering of conservative activists that urged the country to focus on the “red menace” of the national debt. Former President Bill Clinton publicly called Daniels one of the smart Republicans and told Daniels privately that he’d watched the speech more than once, the book says. Shown a copy of Daniels’ speech, President Barack Obama said it had a lot of “reasonableness” and that he would enjoy debating Daniels…

When Daniels told supporters later that month that he wasn’t running, his voice broke.

“Look guys, I know you don’t agree, and you’re disappointed, and I’ve let you down,” the book quotes Daniels saying in the conference call. “I love my country, but I love my family more.”…

In May, the book says, Daniels gave Romney a “kick in the shins” when he told Fox News that he wasn’t being vetted to be Romney’s running mate.

“Of course not,” Daniels said. “If I thought the call was coming, I would disconnect the phone.”

Capital City Looking Beyond Super Bowl

Inside INdiana Business reports on how Indianapolis is looking to capitalize on the upcoming Super Bowl long after the game ends:

The head of the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association believes the city has a real opportunity to increase business after the Super Bowl. Association Chief Executive Officer Leonard Hoops says it’s important to make a great impression on corporate decision-makers who will be in the town for the game. During an interview set to air this weekend on Inside INdiana Business Television, Hoops also says the ICVA faces a challenge to fill additional hotel space once the Super Bowl is long gone. Watch video.

Poll: GOP Frontrunner Still Missing

The results of our most recent poll question seem to adequately reflect the current state of the Republican race for president — a lot of choices with little consensus.

We asked your favorite on the GOP side. Mitt Romney (33%) and Herman Cain (25% with more than a few of those votes received prior to his recent difficulties) led the way. Third was "other" with Jon Huntsman, none of the above, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and a few others showing up in that category.

Among remaining choices: Ron Paul (11%), Rick Perry (5%) and Michele Bachmann (3%). In other words, it’s still wait and see on how this one will play out in early 2012.

We keep the focus on Washington with our new question. Vote (upper right) on the following:

What would you most like to receive from Washington as an early (or late) holiday present?

  • “Do-over” on health care reform
  • Moratoirum on new federal regulations
  • Simpler tax process
  • Solid plan to reduce debt
  • Other

Republicans Slow to Endorse This Year

I’m sure you’re as baffled as I am as to why GOP Congressmen aren’t exactly chomping at the bit to endorse the likes of Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Michelle Bachmann or Rick Santorum (sarcasm intended). But here’s an interesting article from The Washington Post about how things are unfolding a little more slowly on that front for 2012:

Across the country, most Republicans haven’t committed fully to any of the party’s presidential candidates. In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, 69 percent on the GOP side said there was still a chance they could change their minds about their choice.

In Washington, an elite focus group of 289 Republicans was even more indecisive.

That group consists of the GOP members of the House and Senate, of whom just 60 — or 21 percent — have publicly endorsed a presidential candidate, according to a list maintained by the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call.

The lawns of Iowa and New Hampshire are still covered mostly with leaves, not snow, so lawmakers have some time left to choose a side. But the endorsement pace has been much slower than it was during the last election cycle.

Across the country, most Republicans haven’t committed fully to any of the party’s presidential candidates. In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, 69 percent on the GOP side said there was still a chance they could change their minds about their choice.

In Washington, an elite focus group of 289 Republicans was even more indecisive.

As of Nov. 9, 2007, 107 Hill Republicans — 43 percent of the total then serving — had offered their endorsements to a White House contender, according to a Roll Call tally at the time.

The current list includes 36 endorsements for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, 14 for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, six for ex-House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), three for Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) and one for businessman Herman Cain. That total does not include Paul himself, although his preference appears clear. The same is true for Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.).

Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr. and ex-senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) have yet to receive any Capitol Hill endorsements.

Four years ago, Romney led the way with a similar number, 33, followed by Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) with 29, ex-New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani with 24 and former senator Fred D. Thompson (Tenn.) with 21.

President’s Toughest Repeats in 2012

Remember back three years, if you will, and Indiana’s prominent role in the presidential election. First, there was the Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton primary contest in early May that had the nation’s attention. Then, our early poll closing had many in November watching closely for the start of a trend (that did play out) when Obama defeated Republican opponent John McCain.

Obama actually won 365 electoral votes in 2008. It’s certainly too early to tell whether the president wins re-election. Far more certain is, barring a total GOP meltdown, that the 365 total will not be approached. In fact, the National Journal Daily consulted with veteran political strategists from both sides to determine the states "toughest for Obama to hang on to."

Indiana leads the way. Here are a few excerpts from that article:

1. Indiana (11 electoral votes). That the president’s advisers are privately downplaying their chances of recapturing the traditional GOP stronghold—and talking up, instead, his chances in other longer-shot states like Arizona and Georgia—is a clear sign the Hoosier State is looking out of reach.

2. North Carolina (15 electoral votes). The Democratic convention is being held in Charlotte, which should excite the home-state base. But underneath those encouraging indicators are telltale signs that recapturing North Carolina is easier said than done. Obama won the state by a razor-thin, 14,000-vote margin in 2008, thanks to record black and youth turnout. With unemployment at 9.7 percent and the recession disproportionately affecting those groups, it’s hard to foresee that same level of enthusiasm again.

3. Florida (29 electoral votes). The Sunshine State’s 10.7 percent unemployment rate is the nation’s fourth highest. Little has improved economically since the 2010 midterms, when Democrats lost the governor and Senate contests, and saw four Democratic House seats flip to the GOP. For a president who won Florida by just a three-point margin in 2008, that’s not a recipe for success.

4. Ohio (18 electoral votes). Talk to enough Democratic strategists who have worked in the Buckeye State and you’ll inevitably hear anxiety about the president’s standing here. Obama has visited Ohio more than any other battleground state since being elected, but it hasn’t made much of a difference in his poll numbers. Obama’s message that the economy has been turning a corner has been off key with a blue-collar electorate that hasn’t been feeling much of a recovery.

Nevada (6 electoral votes) is also on the list. Honorable mention: Other states that Obama will have to work hard to hang onto include: 6) Virginia (13 electoral votes) ; 7) Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes);   8) Colorado (9 electoral votes) ; 9) New Hampshire (4 electoral votes); 10) Iowa (6 electoral votes).


Hoosiers Mentioned in Early GOP Talks for 2012

Should probably pace myself on the 2012 talk, but what the heck, we need something to get excited about: Chris Cillizza of "The Fix" offers a blog post on the top 10 contenders for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. And wouldn’t you know it, two Hoosiers are right there in the mix:

9. Mike Pence: Pence’s decision to step aside as the fourth ranking Republican in the House makes clear that he has his eye on a bigger prize. His allies cast him as the only candidate in the field who can unite social and fiscal conservatives and, in the early cattle calls, Pence has performed well. Still, as a House member, he has to overcome a perceived stature gap as well as show he can raise the money to be competitive.

7. Mitch Daniels: The Indiana governor is term limited out of office in 2012 and, despite saying he would never run for another job, certainly seems to be weighing a presidential bid. Daniels ran and won as an outsider in Indiana and had built a record over the past six years in office that makes fiscal conservatives smile. Daniels’ problem? He doesn’t have much interest in the cultural wars that are so important to social conservatives. Can someone focused almost exclusively on fiscal issues win a Republican primary for president?

And this is a stretch, but … on the other side, this op-ed was published in The Washington Post Sunday, arguing that Obama would benefit his party, himself, and the country most by not seeking re-election. Doubtful, but it’s an interesting argument. Should he heed this advice, one wonders if it may open the door for a more centrist Democratic candidate in 2012 — perhaps a certain former governor/soon-to-be former senator. Time will tell.

Will Bayh Seek Governor’s Office Again?

Writing for Howey Politics Indiana, veteran reporter/columnist Jack Colwell relays the soon-to-be former Senator’s comments on seeking the Indiana Governor’s office once again, as well as his thoughts on the acrimonious nature of politics at the national level today:

After deciding, Bayh said, he will announce quickly, avoiding his acknowledged mistake in not announcing his Senate decision back in August of ’09, when he told Obama.
When Obama asked if he was 100 percent certain, Bayh related, “I made a mistake. I said it’s 98 percent.”
Thus, the president and Rahm Emanuel, then White House chief of staff, kept urging him to put off any announcement and reconsider. He put it off, “procrastinating, going back and forth,” until the filing deadline was upon him.
Now, some Democrats are angry with Bayh for waiting until it was too late for another candidate to get on the primary ballot. Congressman Brad Ellsworth finally was picked as the nominee by the Democratic State Committee. Ellsworth, who would have won for re-election for his 8th District House seat, was instead trounced Tuesday in a statewide race with Republican Dan Coats. And Democrats lost the 8th District seat.
Democratic chances for the Senate wouldn’t have brightened if he had announced much earlier that he wasn’t running, Bayh theorized, because it would have brought a divisive Democratic primary and “Republicans would have had a stronger nominee” than Coats.
Bayh noted that I have written he would have won re-election. He said he probably could have, but he would have had to concentrate from May to November on “destroying my opponent” and suffer “personally unpleasant” attacks from the opponent, not very satisfying for someone sick of partisan warfare in the Senate.
It’s not his father’s Senate.
He said that when his father, Birch Bayh, was in the Senate, “some of his better friends were Republicans. They’d come over for dinner.”
He recalled how Sen. Everett Dirksen, then Senate Republican leader,  “came up to him (Birch Bayh) on the floor of the Senate and asked what he could do to help with his re-election. That would never happen today.”
Bayh said he is “independent, moderate” and found fewer and fewer on either side of the aisle who would abandon partisan bickering to seek reasonable compromise.
“Some of this was unavoidable,” Bayh said of Democratic losses.
After financial panic and severe recession, slow recovery was certain, Bayh said, but the slowness was blamed on the president and Democratic-controlled Congress.
Usual mid-term election losses for the president’s party were made worse, he said, by Democrats who pressed to do too much on health care reform “in the teeth of the worst economy” and brought on “resurrection of the ‘big taxer, big spender’ image.”

Gov. Daniels Draws Respect of NY Times Columnist

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat has joined the chorus of those singing the praise of Mitch Daniels. Though the Governor is still rather ambivalent about running for President in 2012, many in the national punditocracy are urging him to run:

Mitt Romney? He couldn’t make the voters like him last time … Sarah Palin? She’d lose 47 states … Mike Huckabee? Better as a talk-show host … Tim Pawlenty, Jim DeMint, Bobby Jindal, David Petraeus? Too blah, too extreme, too green, and stop dreaming …

But murmur the name Mitch Daniels, and everyone perks up a bit. Would he win? Maybe not. But he’d be the best president of any of them …

“I’ve never seen a president of the United States when I look in the mirror,” Daniels remarked last week, after officially inching the door ajar for 2012. You can’t blame him: At 5’7”, the Indiana governor wouldn’t be the tallest man to occupy the White House, and he’d be the baldest president since Dwight D. Eisenhower. If Romney looks like central casting’s idea of a chief executive, Daniels resembles the character actor who plays the director of the Office of Management and Budget — a title that he held, as it happens, during George W. Bush’s first term.

Since then, though, he’s become America’s best governor. In a just world, Daniels’s record would make him the Tea Party movement’s favorite politician. During the fat years of the mid-2000s, while most governors went on spending sprees, he was trimming Indiana’s payroll, slowing the state government’s growth, and turning a $800 million deficit into a consistent surplus. Now that times are hard, his fiscal rigor is paying off: the state’s projected budget shortfall for 2011, as a percentage of the budget, is the third-lowest in the country.

Indy Columnist Analyzes National Mitch-Mania

The Indianapolis Star’s Matthew Tully offers analysis on just why it is national talking heads have become so enamored with Indiana’s governor. This comes on the heels of National Review — a magazine popular in some GOP circles — making Mitch its cover story this week. Tully surmises:

Question: Why does the national media suddenly have a crush on Daniels?

Answer: Two reasons: First, he’s blunt and always has something interesting to say. That got him in trouble in Indiana a few years back but plays well on the national stage. Second, unlike many other Republicans, he won last year. It makes sense that political watchers would turn to someone who, as the National Review wrote, "has been able to achieve success in the face of prevailing political and economic headwinds." (It should be noted that Daniels overcame relatively light headwinds by running against Jill Long Thompson, one of the weakest candidates Indiana had seen in decades.)

Q: Does any of this suggest the governor is running for president?

A: Daniels has insisted he will not be a candidate for president in 2012, and most Indiana political insiders believe him. That is likely to keep his profile lower than that of others who are dreaming about the White House. But Daniels’ noncandidacy adds heft to his advice for the national Republican Party. After all, if he’s not angling for a bigger job, everything he says can be taken as an honest appraisal of the party or policy issues — and not a calculated move intended to build support among GOP primary voters.

Q: So what’s his angle?

A: Well, I’d never presume to know what’s going on inside Daniels’ head. But it’s hard to deny he is a man of big ideas, and a guy who enjoys offering those ideas publicly so that others can debate them. He is clearly disappointed with the state of the Republican Party. It makes sense that he would try to draw attention to some of his ideas for the GOP — such as the very sensible idea of actually having ideas.

GOP, Dems Working on Overhauling Primary Process

Are you so burned out on politics by this point that you’ve placed a V-chip block on MSNBC and Fox News, and are focused solely on your fantasy football draft or the home stretch of "Project Runway?"

I wouldn’t know about that last part, just that it’s a popular show right now … but isn’t Michael Kors always just so right on in his critiques? I definitely agree with him more than I do with Nina Garcia. What?

Anyway,  according to a Stateline report, both the GOP and Democrats are using convention time this year to revamp their primary processes by 2012 in an effort to prevent such a long, drawn out effort.

Democrats plan to create a commission this week to draw up a new calendar and process for the 2012 presidential nominating schedule, while Republicans will likewise begin meeting this Wednesday (Aug. 27) to discuss a possible overhaul of the primary calendar in advance of their own convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul Sept. 1-4.