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Mitch Daniels leaves a door open

A sprawling Weekly Standard cover story by Andrew Ferguson introduces conservative readers to Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-Ind.), who's attracting more attention as a potential 2012 candidate. Ferguson's whole piece is worth reading, especially the caveat:

There are smart people in Indiana who think he won’t run​—that his demurrals are a ploy to better position himself as governor. “He can’t run [for governor] again, but you notice nobody here considers him a lame duck,” said John Ketzenberger, a veteran statehouse reporter. “He’s still a player in the minds of people here because he’s seen as a player on the national scene. He knows how to leverage that.”

At dinner Daniels admits as much. “Newt [Gingrich] told me, look, quit saying you’re not going to do this. If you don’t run, you don’t run. But say you’re leaving the door open, and the national press will pay a lot more attention to your viewpoint.”

That's a strategy Gingrich has more or less mastered -- some reporters still have the stubs of plane tickets they bought to cover the former speaker's 2007 "Solutions Day," where hints were dropped that he would run for president... and where, in front of many TV cameras, he announced that he wasn't running. Gingrich has reporters tailing him until at least February 2011, when he's said he'll make a call. But if Daniels is running, and trying to leverage an image as a powerful reformer in his state, he's lagging behind Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.), whose media blitz after a state budget showdown last month was truly masterful.

By David Weigel  |  June 7, 2010; 9:31 AM ET
Categories:  2012 Election  
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