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. I took Bruce's comments to highlight a glaring issue when it comes to a state's image, and therefore its overall branding. An example is Michigan vs. Indiana. Michigan has done an excellent job of following through on its branding strategy around "Pure Michigan", even down to the detail of the rest stops. Since a state's branding is often targeted to visitors, it makes sense that rest stops, being that point of first impression, should be significant. It is clear that Indiana doesn't care as much about the impression it gives visitors even though our branding as the Crossroads of America does place importance on travel. Bruce's point is quite logical and accurate.

  2. I appreciated the article. I guess I have become so accustomed to making my "pit stops" at places where I can ALSO get gasoline and something hot to eat, that I hardly even notice public rest stops anymore. That said, I do concur with the rationale that our rest stops (if we are to have them at all) can and should be both fiscally-responsible AND designed to make a positive impression about our state.

  3. I don't know about the rest of you but I only stop at these places for one reason, and it's not to picnic. I move trucks for dealers and have been to rest areas in most all 48 lower states. Some of ours need upgrading no doubt. Many states rest areas are much worse than ours. In the rest area on I-70 just past Richmond truckers have to hike about a quarter of a mile. When I stop I;m generally in a bit of a hurry. Convenience,not beauty, is a primary concern.

  4. Community Hospital is the only system to not have layoffs? That is not true. Because I was one of the people who was laid off from East. And all of the LPN's have been laid off. Just because their layoffs were not announced or done all together does not mean people did not lose their jobs. They cherry-picked people from departments one by one. But you add them all up and it's several hundred. And East has had a dramatic drop I in patient beds from 800 to around 125. I know because I worked there for 30 years.

  5. I have obtained my 6 gallon badge for my donation of A Positive blood. I'm sorry to hear that my donation was nothing but a profit center for the Indiana Blood Center.

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