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Daniels says no presidential pitch made at dinners

September 15, 2010

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said Wednesday he has hosted about a dozen dinners with top Republican fundraisers and business and policy leaders, but never pitched himself as a potential presidential candidate.

Daniels said the dinners at the governor's residence began last spring and have included people who want him to consider a 2012 White House run. Daniels has agreed to keep the door open but says he has made no plans to run.

"People said we want to talk to you about it and we want you to maybe reconsider, so I said come talk," Daniels told reporters. "That's all it has been and most of the conversations have been about the problems facing the country. That is what I want to hear from people about — what do they think is to be done?

"Nobody was asked for a thing, not a dollar, not to lift a finger. I didn't even bring it up," Daniels said of a possible candidacy. "If they brought it up I told them exactly my point of view in exactly the words I've used with you folks and that is it."

Daniels was asked if the dinners were similar to gatherings George W. Bush had with top Republicans in 1999 before he was elected president the following year.

"I don't know what he did but there is a huge difference between having a plan (to run) and that is part of it and having no plan or intention whatsoever, and allowing people to come out here," Daniels said.

Daniels said the only reason he could think of for "this noise" about being a potential candidate is because people have noticed Indiana is doing a little better than most other places.

"I like important people, the kind of people who might one day bring a job or an investment to this state," he said. "I like that they want to come out here and have a look."

When asked if the discussions could have a bearing on whether he ultimately runs, Daniels said, "It might but I wouldn't say it has."

Daniels reiterated previous statements that he has tried to recruit four people to run for president. He has declined to say who they were.

"I just want to see it done well and I want to see this nation take a different course," he said. "If I can find some way to be constructive about it, I will."

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