The cover story for the latest Weekly Standard is Andrew Ferguson's profile of Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, which, both merely in the fact Daniels gave Ferguson access and in its content, strongly suggests that Daniels is considering a presidential run. Taken in tandem with Mike Allen's mention of Daniels with Jeb Bush as a favorite GOP '12 candidate, the article suggests that Daniels has begun plotting a strategy for a potential run.
One of the many interesting notes in the piece (the whole thing is well worth reading) is the very broad platform that Daniels sketches out. It emphasizes fiscal conservatism, which is what Daniels is known for, both as governor and as OMB director under Bush:
Beyond the debt and the deficit, in Daniels's telling, all other issues fade to comparative insignificance. He's an agnostic on the science of global warming but says his views don't matter. "I don't know if the CO2 zealots are right," he said. "But I don't care, because we can't afford to do what they want to do. Unless you want to go broke, in which case the world isn't going to be any greener. Poor nations are never green."
And then, he says, the next president, whoever he is, "would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues. We're going to just have to agree to get along for a little while," until the economic issues are resolved.
Is it a winning strategy to put the so-called social issues on the back burner? Thinking in terms of what a "truce" on social issues would like like substantively, it's not obvious how Daniels's truce would differ from past Republicans' policies. What exactly did Bush do on the social issues that President Daniels would have to forgo?
If Daniels's strategy is a widely palatable campaign platform aimed at bringing on board disaffected and economic issue voters, the question is how much of a trade-off would social conservatives have to make to vote for him. What typical Republican policies would he have to suspend and they have to sacrifice? It's not clear to me that it would be anything more than simply the usual social conservative rhetoric. He might not have to do more than what he's already started doing, which is merely playing down the importance of social issues and telling liberals that we "just have to agree to get along for a little while."
If that trade-off would allow for a coalition that would elect president that would actually cut spending -- and that's a big if -- then it's one social conservatives should definitely be willing to make.
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