Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has cracked open the door on a potential 2012 presidential run.
Washington Post political writer Dan Balz on Monday quoted Daniels in a blog post as saying he’s reluctant, but now “open” to the idea. Balz interviewed Daniels at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association in Washington D.C. over the weekend.
In numerous staunch denials over the years, Daniels, a Republican, has previously dismissed local and national speculation about his ambitions for a possible presidential bid. But, according to the Post, a series of conversations in recent months initiated by people who’d like him to run, including one with former president George W. Bush, convinced Daniels to reverse his position.
“Just to get them off my back, I agreed to a number of people that I will now stay open to the idea,” Daniels told the newspaper.
In response to an e-mail from IBJ, Daniels’ spokeswoman Jane Jankowski said the governor currently has nothing to add beyond what he told the Post.
According to the blog post, Daniels hasn’t taken any preliminary steps toward establishing a national campaign. Daniels
told Balz he’ll spend the next year focused on Indiana’s problems.
“For now to a year-plus from now, that’s all I’m going to do,” Daniels said. “And if these people [encouraging a presidential bid] are still around, and still not fully satisfied with the field, and if I don’t see anybody who’s raising what I think of as the survival issues for the country, I guess I’d listen, if it’s not too late, which it might well be. I’ve told people if it’s too late, so be it.”
Daniels characterized his newfound openness to the nation’s highest office in terms of the same platform issue he’s consistently preached in Indiana: fiscal responsibility. The governor told the Post he believes some candidate needs to spearhead a national debate on debt, deficits and the size and role of government.
Whether that candidate is Daniels remains an open question.
“Are we still a country where people would prefer freedom, personal autonomy, with the risks and responsibilities that go with it, or do we want to socialize all the risks we can and settle for what I think is the false security of statism and so forth?” Daniels said. “I think those questions have got to be presented by somebody.”