I am assuming that Mitch Daniels will soon announce that he is a candidate for President of the United States. Actually, I am praying that he throws his name into the mix officially and if reports from Politico and CNN are correct, he may be leaning that way. Consider the opposition. We are talking the likes of Mitt Romney who, sorry to say, will never garner support because of his religion and his tenure as Massachusetts Governor. How can this man, with a straight face, stand in opposition to Obamacare when a lot of it is modeled on Romneycare? This single issue exemplifies the problem with Mitt Romney in my eyes- he is a political opportunist who will change his stances based not on principle, but political expediency. Tim Pawlenty is a well-respected, blue-collar former Governor from Minnesota, but this guy is downright boring. Not that Daniels is a firebrand, but Pawlenty often looks asleep. Haley Barbour? If the GOP doesn’t think his deep south roots (read: racism) will not enter the dialogue, or his lobbyist past, then they are delusional. Huckabee? He’s a nice “aw shucks” guy and well known because of his Fox News stint, but his base is the evangelical right. He might do good early in primaries, especially through the Bible belt, but after that, he has little support. He is also a notoriously bad fundraiser. Why? Because he appeals to only one segment of the GOP- the evangelical right. Then there is Sarah Palin who is too polarizing a figure to mount a serious run for the Presidency. Like Huckabee, he support is absolute among the most conservative of Republicans, but moderates, independents and others simply oppose her. There are the second tier people- Newt Gingrich (philanderer), John Huntsman (Mormon), Marco Rubio (less Senate experience than Obama), Rick Santorum (give me a break), Michelle Bachmann (give me a bigger break), Josh Bolton and, God forbid, Donald Trump. As an amusing aside, I would like to see Bachmann locked in one of those extreme fighting cages with Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and let them duke it out.
From the above list, it is quite evident that the suggested Republicans appeal to only a segment of the Republican population. For example, if you are for Palin, you are really for Palin, and the same could be said for the other candidates. The exception may be Mitt Romney and that is because he may be the de facto, “Oh well, he’s our guy…let me vote for him” but it will be because they dislike Obama more than they like Romney. Daniels is unique in that he can appeal to a broad spectrum of Republicans, but most importantly to the fiscal conservatives and the moderates in the party and, by extension, the fence sitters and independents who have grown weary in short order of Barack Obama.
Consider his background. He has experience at all levels of government. He was an assistant to Lugar when he was mayor of Indianapolis- local experience. He is Governor of Indiana (state level experience). He has served in Washington as Lugar’s chief of staff and in the OMB under Reagan and George W. Bush. He has experience in the private business world as President of Eli Lilly, Indiana’s largest employer, and a pharmaceutical company. Hence, he has a working knowledge of private industry and the health care field. He has stayed above political frays in his party. Yes, I know his alleged moratorium on social issues may rub some people the wrong way, but one cannot contest the fact he is pro-life. Its just that he is correct- fiscal issues, not social issues is what this election is about.
What I do not understand is the statements that he is “bland” in his speeches. If compared against the pomp and bombastic style of Obama, then that may be true. He also is no Palin or Bachmann in creating excitement and rousing speeches. But, in every article I have read about every speech he has given, despite the venue and despite the subject, he gets good reviews- even among members of the liberal media. The man knows policy given his experience and if a discussion of policy is what this election is about- and I believe it is since most people realize they were bamboozled by Obama- then isn’t this the candidate you want?
Some have suggested, even this early, some names for Vice President. Sabato’s Crystal Ball had an interesting article on Vice Presidential choices and named some names. I would like to reiterate some of the main points. The choice must be able to survive the vetting process and must know the issues. In short, there can be no repeat of Palin’s Katie Couric moment. It should be someone of stature within the Republican Party preferably someone who did not campaign against the eventual nominee. That would leave out Romney, Pawlenty and the like. They note that Governors and Representatives receive more speculation and thought from pundits than the candidate themselves. That would leave out Paul Ryan or any other Representative or Chris Christie. Most importantly, because the Republican convention is late leaving basically a 10-week sprint to the election, building name recognition cannot be a priority. They have to have name recognition already. Also, running mates from large competitive states are rarely chosen. Joe Biden and Dick Cheney came from small population states as did Al Gore and Dan Quayle.
Neither Biden, Cheney, Gore, or Quayle were chosen because the outcomes in Delaware, Wyoming, Tennessee or Indiana were in question and their choice would tip the scales there. After all, Clinton lost Tennessee with Gore on the ticket. Which brings me to my choice. They hail from a large state whose outcome will not be in question. However, this state’s geographical location presents a unique opportunity to appeal to different regions of the country. Also, since the campaign from convention to election day will not be that long, it may be appealing to the eventual person of my choice.
My choice is who will be former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas. She hails from a state that is simultaneously southern, Midwestern, and southwestern. She has high leadership scores within the Republican Party and she knows the issues having served on the Appropriations Committee and Veteran’s Affairs Committee. She is a woman who will appeal to women voters because of her middle of the road stance on social issues. She has the best of both worlds while proclaiming herself pro-choice yet getting low marks from pro-choice interest groups. Hutchison would be the perfect running mate for Daniels by appealing to the conservative base (as a woman, as a qualified woman, as a knowledgeable woman). Hutchison has built a unique persona of being “bipartisan” (she is considered to the right of Orrin Hatch but the left of John McCain) while getting a 100% rating from the Christian Coalition. The only things keeping her out are (1) the vetting process and (2) her personal choice. Regarding vetting, lets not forget that as part of her campaign to succeed Lloyd Bentsen in the special election, she was indicted but found innocent of any wrongdoing. That may hang over her head. But, two subsequent election victories- in essence being successfully vetted by the voters of the union’s second most populous state- should settle that issue. As for her personal choice, she is retiring from the Senate for a reason, personal reasons. However, at this juncture in history with so much on the line, at least four more years in Washington is the least we can ask of Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Therefore, let me be perhaps the first to endorse a Mitch Daniels-Kay Bailey Hutchison ticket for the Republican Party in 2012. DANIELS & HUTCHISON IN 2012!!!!