Mitch Daniels' Rules for Republicans
The governor of Indiana talks sensibly about the problems facing America.
1:25 PM, Feb 23, 2010 • By FRED BARNES
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has a few ideas – pretty good ones, actually – about how a Republican candidate should run a campaign for the presidency. But guess what? He says he doesn’t intend to run. “I don’t plan to do it, don’t expect to do it, and I really don’t want to do it,” Daniels says.
Daniels, however, has dropped his Shermanesque stance of refusing to consider a presidential bid. Instead, he told the Washington Post recently that he’s been persuaded to leave open the option of running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.
Daniels has two basic ideas for the next Republican presidential candidate. One, the candidate should have a plan for solving the spending, deficit and debt crisis that has “intellectual credibility” and “holds water.” This mean the candidate would “campaign to govern, not merely to win” on what Daniels calls a “survival” issue for the country.
The second idea: The candidate should “speak to Americans in a tone a voice that is unifying and friendly and therefore gives you a chance of unifying around some action.” In his campaigns for governor, Daniels never ran a single negative TV commercial attacking an opponent.
His comments Tuesday came during a session with reporters sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. Daniels was in Washington to attend the National Governors Conference. He handled the questioning by reporters impressively and with ease.
Should Daniels decide to run for president, his ability to deal cheerfully and effectively with the media would surely be an asset. He is also extremely knowledgeable about substantive issues, having served under President Reagan as White House political director and in the administration of President George W. Bush as budget chief.
His ideas about how to run a presidential campaign may sound a bit mushy and unconventional. But they are sensible, given the seriousness of the spending and debt problem with deficits of $1 trillion a year for years to come and the need for bipartisanship in forging a solution.
Daniels likes the idea of a commission to offer recommendations. The commission proposed by Obama would do this in December. He believes the commission “need not” and “should not” urge a tax increases in the face of weak economy.
He also believes the protests against the spending of the Obama administration show the American public is becoming more interested in the debt problem and more sophisticated in thinking about it. That, Daniels says, is the first step toward enacting a remedy.
Asked about the traits a president should have, Daniels mentioned a willingness to “accept criticism and alternative views.” He said Reagan used to remind aides that in America “we have no enemies, only opponents.” That, Daniels said, is “one of the best rules I know.”
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