Mitch Daniels's (boys and) girls?
As we begin 2011, the Republican 2012 contenders begin some pre-announcement posturing and their supporters hope to push along the more reluctant candidates. A case in point is Students for Mitch Daniels, which has launched a sharp-looking website on behalf of the Indiana governor. The group is largely run by Yale students, bolstering the observation of many that Ivy League faculty may not be in sync with students' politics these days. The pro-Daniels students appear to be far more serious and sober than the "Obama girls" who swooned in 2008.
Daniels, if he decides to run, will, I suspect, attract a great deal of attention and support from conservatives who are shopping for a fiscal conservative who can breach whatever gap exists between Tea Partyers and establishment Republicans. Should he run, other governors or former governors may find it hard to get traction. Why choose a Mitt Romney or a Haley Barbour, who both carry some political baggage, when Daniels is in the race?
True, Daniels put off some social conservatives with talk of a "truce" on social issues and worried some national security hawks (by stressing the need for penny-pinching on defense) when he put out some feelers last year. But if he is serious and disciplined now, when GOP activists are beginning to pay attention to the field, those missteps can be corrected. Frankly, if a bunch of college kids can get excited by a Midwestern governor with minimal charisma and a laser-like devotion to entitlement reform, he may find the party is in a mood for a decidedly un-Obama-like figure.
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