A Daniels presidential strategy

February 26, 2010
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Speculation that Gov. Mitch Daniels will run for president has picked up a few notches since he complained to Washington reporters a few days ago that potential Republican candidates were majoring in the minors, that they weren’t talking about critical issues like oil imports and the national debt.

However, if Daniels were to run for president, how should he do it? As an unconventional politician, he’s quick with a quip—and a barb—and isn’t exactly Hollywood glitterati.

Ice Miller attorney, lobbyist and long-time Republican fundraiser John Hammond thinks Daniels would need to run an unusual campaign that fits his style and also would get him noticed in what looks to be a crowded field.

Hammond, who thinks the odds of the governor running are better than 50-50, says Daniels should stay away from big gatherings like tea party conventions. He also shouldn’t start out traveling to Iowa and New Hampshire.

“I would avoid pure partisan activity at the moment,” he says. “It means you’re just like everyone else, competing in the same space. You need to distinguish yourself.”

Daniels should lay a foundation by talking to lots of opinion-shapers in quarters as diverse as education, media and infrastructure, Hammond continues. Explain to them how he’d handle the debt and trade deficit, how he’d fight terrorists.

Only after building deep grassroots support with influential people should Daniels trek to the early states and build recognition with voters; at this point Daniels would bet on the grassroots people showing up and talking up his candidacy.

What about running in an era when television is the only exposure to candidates most voters get? Hammond thinks voters will crave a candidate who, in his opinion, is more substance than glitz.

“The electorate is pretty intelligent. They make the right choices for the country. You gotta count on that,” Hammond says. “They’ll be searching for someone who can solve some of the biggest issues, and some of their fears.”

That’s Hammond’s take; what’s yours?

Should Daniels opt in?

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  1. Really, taking someone managing the regulation of Alcohol and making himthe President of an IVY Tech regional campus. Does he have an education background?

  2. Jan, great rant. Now how about you review the report and offer rebuttal of the memo. This might be more conducive to civil discourse than a wild rant with no supporting facts. Perhaps some links to support your assertions would be helpful

  3. I've lived in Indianapolis my whole and been to the track 3 times. Once for a Brickyard, once last year on a practice day for Indy 500, and once when I was a high school student to pick up trash for community service. In the past 11 years, I would say while the IMS is a great venue, there are some upgrades that would show that it's changing with the times, just like the city is. First, take out the bleachers and put in individual seats. Kentucky Motor Speedway has individual seats and they look cool. Fix up the restrooms. Add wi-fi. Like others have suggested, look at bringing in concerts leading up to events. Don't just stick with the country music genre. Pop music would work well too I believe. This will attract more young celebrities to the Indy 500 like the kind that go to the Kentucky Derby. Work with Indy Go to increase the frequency of the bus route to the track during high end events. That way people have other options than worrying about where to park and paying for parking. Then after all of this, look at getting night lights. I think the aforementioned strategies are more necessary than night racing at this point in time.

  4. Talking about congestion ANYWHERE in Indianapolis is absolutely laughable. Sure you may have to wait in 5 minutes of traffic to travel down BR avenue during *peak* times. But that is absolutely nothing compared to actual big cities. Indy is way too suburban to have actual congestion problems. So please, never bring up "congestion" as an excuse to avoid development in Indianapolis. If anything, we could use a little more.

  5. Oh wait. Never mind.

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