Could Daniels be in line for a shot at the top job himself in 2012?
Daniels pledged that his second Indiana gubernatorial campaign would be his last foray in politics. But Daniels' reelection was one of the few red victories on a mostly blue U.S. map. So commentators have begun speculating that the Republican Party might draft Daniels to challenge President Barack Obama in four years.
In the Nov. 9 edition of the Washington Post, political columnist David S. Broder described America's 21 Republican governors as the party's hope for the future. And he devoted much of his column to Daniels: "Indiana's Daniels, just re-elected to a second term, may offer the best example of the distinctive approach of these politicians," Broder wrote. "After telling me that he was not sure he had any lessons to offer his party, he began to rattle off important ones:
"One thing we have learned is that fiscal restraint works. We dug out of a deficit and now we have a triple-A bond rating for the first time. Market principles work," Broder quoted Daniels as saying. "We have begun to insure our uninsured, with health savings accounts, paid for with a higher tobacco tax."
Daniels went on to tout his administration's efforts to expand child welfare, reduce waiting in license bureaus, and improve Indiana's roads via funds raised through the $3.8 billion Indiana Toll Road lease.
On the subject of social issues, Broder reports Daniels said: "I try to live traditional values and affirm them, but not impose them on others. I'm trying to bring the state together to do hard things, not look for ways to divide us."
The next day, conservative New York Times columnist William Kristol spent most of his column space explaining why Obama is likely to be an impressive candidate again in 2012, because he addresses even simple matters like the choice of the White House puppy with elan.
Kristol concludes by tossing out names of potential challengers:
"Obama will be formidable. But conservatives should welcome the challenge. It's good for conservatism that conservatives will have to develop refreshed ideas and regenerated political skills to succeed in the age of Obama," Kristol wrote. "And it wouldn't hurt for Governors Sarah Palin, Mitch Daniels, Bobby Jindal and other possible 2012 G.O.P. nominees to begin bringing some puppies home for their kids."