Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels isn’t running for president in 2012. In the run-up to this decision, Daniels managed to irritate activists who make up all three legs of the conservative “stool.” His comments about a truce on social issues — an idea that could have never worked in practice — represented a particular problem. That said, Daniels’ record on many of these issues was to the right of Mitt Romney’s. It is telling that Romney has been able to substantially overcome his record by saying the right things while Daniels’ record is obscured by his saying the wrong things.
While family was ultimately the main reason the Indiana governor bowed out, it wasn’t clear that Daniels’ political instincts were in step with the mood of the Republican base. He was also going to have to answer for his role as budget director in the spendthrift Bush administration, which would have been used to tarnish his reputation for fiscal rectitude. There were also legitimate concerns that a President Daniels would have raised taxes as part of a grand bargain to achieve entitlement reform. Other Republican leaders may now take a second look at the race.
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