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Draft of Mitch Daniels’s Response to State of the Union!?

1:19 PM, Jan 19, 2012 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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This morning, the Republican leadership on the Hill announced that Indiana governor Mitch Daniels would deliver the GOP response Tuesday night to President Obama’s State of the Union Address. An hour ago, a dark lady mysteriously appeared at our offices and dropped off an envelope before vanishing down the stairwell. We can’t vouch for the authenticity of the document the envelope contained, of course. But it appears to be a draft of a section—the final section, apparently—of Daniels’s speech text. On the first page of the section is typed, in capital letters, “DO NOT CIRCULATE WITH THE REST OF THE SPEECH DRAFT—THIS IS UNDER PERSONAL CONSIDERATION BY THE GOVERNOR.”

Here’s the draft section:

Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of giving my final State of the State speech to my fellow Hoosiers, whom I’ve been so honored to serve as governor for the last eight years. Let me quote from my remarks then:

“I have a new prized possession. It is a letter, written to his parents by a young clerk named A.B. Carpenter, on February 12, 1861. Amid updates about haircuts, colds, and headaches, young Mr. Carpenter reported the following: ‘There is considerable excitement concerning a couple of legislators who went to Kentucky to fight a duel. Mr. Heffern, a Democrat, slandered and abused Mr. Moody, a Republican in a speech and Moody challenged him. He accepted and choosed bowie knives. They went to Kentucky last Friday night and have not been heard from since.’

“And we think we have disagreements! When we do, I hope we’ll keep them not only in state, but also in this Chamber, where the people’s business is supposed to be settled.

“Mr. Carpenter’s letter wasn’t mainly about duels or haircuts.  He wrote it because he had gone to see the newly-elected President, Abraham Lincoln, who had spent that day, his 52nd birthday, in Indianapolis. Young Carpenter described Lincoln’s arrival at Lafayette Road, the procession down Washington, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois Streets to the Bates House hotel.

“Seeing the new President filled Carpenter with hope, he said, that ‘(S)oon our government will be remodeled.’ I like the term. These measures I have mentioned are part of our continuing remodeling project.”

We’ve had some success with our remodeling project in Indiana. The difficult choices we’ve made have made our state more prosperous, and I’m pleased to say that my fellow citizens seem to approve of the choices we’ve made.

But in preparing this response to President Obama, I’ve been struck, even more forcefully than before, just how urgently our federal government needs to be remodeled. In fact, it needs to be remodeled even more dramatically than our state government in Indiana had to be. President Obama has failed to do this in his first term. He would fail to do this in his second term, if he were to win one.

Which raises the question: Is the current crop of Republican presidential candidates up to denying President Obama a second term? And would any of them be up to the necessary remodeling of our nation if they were to win? Unfortunately, lots of my fellow Republicans have doubts on both scores. A recent poll found that 7 out of 10 Republicans across the nation would like more options to choose from for president.

The candidates for the Republican nomination are my friends. I like and admire them. But I must say I’ve increasingly come to share the doubt that any of them would be likely to win, or would be likely to govern successfully.

So I want to announce tonight that I am open to reconsidering my decision not to seek the presidency in 2012. I have not wanted to run, for family reasons among others. I have hoped someone else would prove up to the task. But my family and I have now decided that country must come first. I am considering joining the race.

But I need to know if you want me to run. I only want to enter the race if you, the people, think I should. So here’s what I propose: None of the candidates currently running has received more than a total of 300,000 votes in the three contests so far. So here’s a test of my viability: If in the next few days I receive more than 300,000 emails, at, asking me to run—then I will take that as a sign that, despite my previous reluctance, I should enter the contest.

If I run, I will be a reluctant candidate, in the sense that I did not plan on seeking this position. But let me assure you of this: if I do run, I will not run a reluctant campaign. I will run full out. I will compete in those primaries where I can still get on the ballot, I will go all out to win at the convention where the nomination will likely be decided, and I will take the fight to President Obama in the fall. If I run, I will run to win—because this country deserves leadership that will fundamentally remodel our government and restore our nation.

Thank you, good night, and God Bless America.

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