Mitch Daniels, the cautious conservative populist governor of Indiana, is taking the first steps to a likely 2012 Republican presidential primary bid, according to associates. An E-mail provided to Whispers by a very close Daniels confidant says that the successful two-term governor is seriously contemplating a run as he considers his options for 2012.
The E-mail reports that while Daniels, a former Reagan-era White House political adviser and George W. Bush's first budget director, never considered running for the highest office in the land. But after reforming Indianapolis and winning reelection in 2008 when President Obama took the state, he has received non-stop encouragement to run from supporters who like his no-nonsense style of governing. It's hit a peak since he helped to orchestrate his state Republican Party's 2010 midterm election rout in Indiana. With nonstop candidate recruitment and fund raising, he helped the party build a 37-13 super majority in the state Senate 60-40 advantage in the Indiana House.
Associates add that Daniels will not be deciding immediately on his presidential plans, but will likely early next year. "It is true that the political timetable for making this type of decision has changed somewhat from previous years. It isn't necessary to declare as early in the cycle as some have previously done, but we all realize the importance of at least letting people such as yourself know if he continues to be serious about his consideration," said the E-mail.
Political analysts say that many Republicans will announce in spring in order to begin fund raising full-time and hiring staff.
As Daniels considers his future, associates say that he is encouraging friends to weigh in via E-mail. Many Whispers has talked to over the past month expect Daniels to run and to compete with Mitt Romney for control of the debate over the economy and spending.
Daniels has caught flack for recently calling for a 2012 GOP primary "truce" on social issues to focus instead on the economic woes of the nation. He was backed up on that by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a close friend and some have rumored would be his vice presidential pick if Daniels gets that far. Christian conservatives, however, have knocked that truce call, though Daniels wasn't ruling out even talking about social issues.
He also gets ribbed for being a dull Midwestern potential candidate, ironic considering many of those considering a bid are dull. But his associates say that he has become one of Indiana's most popular governors because of his style which he spices up with rides on his Harley-Davidson, his all-county campaign tours in an RV and his occasional overnights in the homes of Indiana citizens.