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.”