Mitch Daniels easily has the most impressive 2012 campaign strategy of any contender in the field. It’s simple: REFUSE TO RUN. When that’s not enough for your admirers, employees, and former employers, and you’re tired of all their pestering: reluctantly agree to possibly run if there is still time once you’re done with what you’re working on right now, but “just to get them off [your] back”. What next? Grudgingly accept the GOP nomination? Begin 2013 inauguration speech with “Well, I tried my hardest not to do this, but no one would let it be so…”?
All humor aside, Daniels’ latest budge toward a 2012 bid belies more than a healthy distaste for jumping into the ring before he’s good and ready. It may speak to conservative and GOP dissatisfaction with the current field of candidates. In January Daniels took fifth in a GOP insider poll of possible 2012 contenders, and even mustered a couple of percentage points in the CPAC staw poll – all while firmly sticking to his NO WAY strategy, and with minimal media exposure. The continued prodding by the likes of George W. Bush (which Daniels wisely downplayed) and the fantasizing by George Will of a Daniels/Ryan White House speaks to the fact that many feel Daniels is the best man to actually produce effective, conservative, results for the country.
Daniels, should he choose to make a move at some point in the future, stands on good ground. He is admired by party insiders, conservative intellectuals, and even hard-line activists like RedState’s Erick Erickson. With such a firm foot on the base, and a record of impressive results as Governor of Indiana, he could be in a position to make a national push without worrying about trouble on the right. If he does make a move it probably won’t be until after November, or at least that’s what he says. Then again, if people keep bugging him he might have to act sooner, just to get them off his back.