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Daniels' book latest of many governors' tomes

September 11, 2011

For a two-time author, Gov. Mitch Daniels has a pretty dim view of his fellow elected scribes — and there are many.

"Despite a long involvement with public life, I have read very few books by public officials, past or present. Judging by the ones I have read, many are written to justify the authors' actions or, worse, to settle personal scores. Others aim to embellish the authors' role or proximity to major events, and still others are thinly veiled exercises in self-advertisement," Daniels writes in the introduction to his book, "Keeping the Republic."

Daniels discussed the book last month on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal," which also aired passages from the book. His book is due out Sept. 20, but copies have been circulating around Washington, D.C., for weeks.

Of the nation's 50 sitting governors, almost a quarter of them are authors. Four, including Daniels, have written tomes while serving as their state's chief executive. That number is set to increase by one early next year when South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's book, "Can't is Not an Option," hits the bookshelves.

Another seven governors penned tomes before they took office: Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Ohio Gov. John Kasich wrote books, while California Gov. Jerry Brown's "Thoughts" came out in 1976 during his first go-round as governor.

The politician's tome has become "almost routine," said Peter Osnos, founder and editor-at-large of PublicAffairs Books.

"All of them want to be thought of as people who have something to say and they want to address their constituency," said Osnos, who helped publish President Barack Obama's first book, "Dreams from my Father," in 1995.

The book is a natural tool for politicians, Osnos said: it allows them to talk directly to a captive audience at length with no filters.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick used his memoir released in April to detail his rise from poverty in Chicago to become his state's first black governor. Texas Gov. Rick Perry's "Fed Up!" was released nine months ago; it is filled with many proclamations he is now defending on the campaign trail — from likening Social Security to a "bad disease" to calling the nation's Supreme Court justices "oligarchs in robes."

Daniels spokeswoman Jane Jankowski deferred questions about the governor's decision to write a second book to his publisher. Spokeswomen for his publisher, Penguin Group's conservative imprint Sentinel, said they won't discuss the book until it goes on sale next week.

Before publishing Daniels' book, Sentinel published two books by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and is also scheduled to publish Haley's forthcoming book.

Daniels' first book, "Notes from the Road," reflected on his 2004 campaign for office.

The marketing campaign for Daniels' new publishing venture is well under way. A Twitter feed was launched last week linking to a sparsely populated website.

When he was being urged to write a book, Daniels said he made it clear he wanted to outline some policy prescriptions and not fall back into personal allegories or sniping.

"If I was going to put the time into it, I would like to try and say a few things about what I think are the central questions in front of us," Daniels said in the C-SPAN interview.

Those central questions revolve around curbing federal spending and reining in Social Security and entitlement spending before they "destroy the nation," he said.

He's also outlined a scenario in which China unloads its U.S. bonds, sparks a global sell-off of U.S. debt and America collapses into looting, rioting and martial law.

Had he run for president, Daniels would have been the norm among the candidates. Of the eight Republican presidential contenders who debated at the Reagan Library last week, only Rep. Michelle Bachmann and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. have not written books.

Even though he stayed out of the 2012 race, Daniels has the backing of one of Washington's most powerful attorneys: Robert Barnett. Among the many powerful authors he has represented are Obama, former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Dick Cheney.

"It tells you that he's ambitious," Osnos said of Daniels picking Barnett to handle his book affairs. "Bob only handles the creme de la creme."

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