Super PAC takes aim at Mitch Daniels over possible Senate bid

A screenshot of Club for Growth Action ad seeking to head off a U.S. Senate bid by former Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Prominent national conservative organization Club for Growth hopes to keep two-term Indiana governor and former Purdue University President Mitch Daniels out of a new race for U.S. Senate with a blistering new advertisement set to hit Hoosier TVs Sunday.

Daniels is considering a run to replace Sen. Mike Braun, who is giving up the seat to run for governor. He hasn’t publicly announced a decision yet, but some conservative groups don’t want to see him return as a candidate.

“His brand of Republicanism is out of date,” said David McIntosh, president of Club for Growth Action. “Hoosiers need new leadership to tackle the problems that Mitch and other moderates created over 50 years.”

The move comes after a Bellwether Research poll in December found that Daniels easily leads a hypothetical Senate field with 32% and the nearest competitor being U.S. Rep. Jim Banks at 10%.

The ad opens by claiming Daniels’ credentials as a free-wheeling, big-thinking truth teller are a myth.

“An old guard Republican clinging to the old ways of the bad old days,” the 60-second ad proclaims while adding that Daniels is not conservative and “not the right guy for Indiana anymore.”

The group says it wants to get “the right kind” of “limited-government” and “pro-growth” conservatives in Congress, according to its website. That includes U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and more.

The super-PAC is starting with a $16,500 ad buy during Sunday political shows statewide. But McIntosh warned the group would spend “whatever it takes to ensure voters know his real record.”

The ad lambasts Daniels for spending decisions he made as director of the federal Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush and for tax hikes while Indiana governor. For instance, it says he proposed an income tax (he did) and that he raised the sales tax.

The latter was the result of the state taking over the majority of funding for K-12 schools and capping property taxes statewide.

And it criticizes the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget — which Daniels co-chairs — for supporting a carbon tax and approving of President Joe Biden’s climate and tax bill as “fiscally responsible.”

“Mitch Daniels bragged to Newsweek that he never uses the word ‘conservative’ to describe himself — because he’s not,” the ad says, referencing a 2010 interview.

Daniels didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Indiana Capital Chronicle is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that covers state government, policy and elections.

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27 thoughts on “Super PAC takes aim at Mitch Daniels over possible Senate bid

  1. Who knows what the real reason for this is, but Daniels is right down the rails of a Club for Growth kind of guy. He’s a true believer in government austerity and one of the rare people that governed that way. He’s also very pro-business. He’s only a moderate when it comes to cultural issues, which I haven’t traditionally associated with the Club for Growth.

    Having said there, there is a real question as to whether the Daniels brand of 1980s style conservatism will play with the voters this time around. The landscape is much different today than it was back in 2008. In particular, Daniels is very out of sync on the cultural matters important to the GOP base.

    1. Today’s Republican base voter is much more interested in a clown like Don Rainwater than any sort of Republican from 20 years ago.

      They’d claim Reagan was a RINO and call Eisenhower a socialist.

  2. Mitch Daniels is exactly the right kind of person to represent Indiana in the US Senate. Rationale, thoughtful, focused on producing results and not rhetoric.

  3. Mitch is exactly the kind of level headed moderate Republican we need. The Republican party left me when they threw their support behind trump, but Mitch is a Republican for whom I would vote!

  4. Sadly, I think Mitch Daniels is too smart to throw his hat in the ring for Braun’s seat. His financially conservative, culturally moderate views are out of fashion in this mudslinging, name calling, unwilling to debate House and Senate that we have today.

    1. Mitch has spent 16 years making CEO decisions to which everyone has responded without question – why would he want to waste his time and ROI as one of 100 in the US Senate where decisions aren’t to be made? Get real.

    1. For the sake of the Big Ten, I’d hope not. Mitch Daniels hasn’t shown to me that he’s interested in the cutthroat policies required in college sports today.

      He’d go in talking about the need to stop spending and he’d never see the SEC and other colleges knifing him in the back.

      To steal from a movie, he’s just not a wartime consigliere.

  5. Yeah…. Mitch is not MAGA enough for what it seems the Republican party of this particular PAC wants.

    He would be a super candidate that might actually think for himself and knows that compromise is not a four letter word.

  6. Mitch Daniels has my support for anything he wants to run for. His common sense is desperately needed at every level. I don’t think he’d be a hard sell in the Republican party at all. Question is why he’d even want to join the ugly, dysfunctional craziness of today’s politics?

  7. We need Mitch now more than ever. Both for bringing more sanity back to the Republican Party and for best-in-class representation of Indiana in national politics. It’s hard for me to get engaged in politics with the current state of polarization. It would be most welcome to have Mitch showcase his leadership and intellect for Indiana. I would vote for Mitch wherever he goes.

  8. Not quite sure how David McIntosh, a former three-term member of the Congress back in the 1990s, is qualified to tell us what kind of Republicans Indiana needs to send to Washington. A student of Anton Scalia and founder of the uber-conservative Federalist Society, McIntosh is more Libertarian than Republican. The notion that he thinks Mitch Daniels’ prior and long history of service to Indiana is not what Indiana and the country needs now is not surprising, since he obviously thinks we’d be better off with someone more in step with the individualist anarchist Benjamin Tucker from the late 1870s and early 1880s.

    1. It’s very simple, Brent.

      Folks like McIntosh advocate from a zero sum position of domestic war with fellow Americans who do not fall in line, 100%, with their beliefs. As said above, words like compromise and moderation are dirty words. Signs of weakness. Whatever they tell you they’re for, they’re actually against. You have the freedom to do whatever you want as long as it’s what we want you to do. Get so freaked out about “socialism” you miss the fascism that we are currently peddling.

      The response of moderates should not be to go along with the extremists, as the supposed moderates did in the House GOP, allowing the crazy caucus to take all the power. All that’s going to do is get them is primary’d in less than two years.

  9. Lest we forget, McIntosh is a narcissist in trying to gain back his ultra right wing, ultra religious, and holier than thou ultra conservative views, after he lost all his reruns for congress and other elected offices.

  10. According to this PAC, the country only needs crazy populist idiots.

    As far as I can tell, the PAC only serves to keep populism alive in the Republican Party, which is bad for everybody.

  11. Mitch Daniels would be a fantastic Senator for Indiana. What we need is a level headed leader and forward thinking leader like Mitch. The Club for Growth has gone off the rails.

    1. Yes, so far off the rails that I don’t even recognize these people as being from a sane party.

      Daniels still has to get through the primary where it seems the fanatics are only ones that come out and vote. This makes a strong case for open primaries with rank order voting.

  12. We need sanity brought to the arena. Hopefully Mitch will run as we need an adult at the table instead of the bickering selfish children. Someone who can make decisions that are best for all Hoosiers. Did we forget he brought Indiana out of a financial deficit into a surplus?

  13. I’m not sure the Club for Growth “dissing” Mitch Daniels is a good idea…in fact, as conservative as I am, I don’t think it’s a good idea at all. He’s a level-headed guy who did an outstanding job as president of my Alma Mater, Purdue, and even though not perfect, has more brains in his pinkie’s fingernail than the aggregate total of brains in the entirety of today’s eveil-obesssed Democrat Party.

    That said, it’s probably a pipe dream to think he’d run for any public office. His wife Cherie has seen what happens when razor-teeth Democraps get their hands in even an inkling of malfeasance…while in concert with the MSM to hide/disregard all of Hunter Biden’s indiscretions that threaten our country’s very sovereignty.

    I can’t imagine him going against her wishes and throwing his hat in any ring.

    1. Bob, I have to give you credit for a special kind of ignorance of reality and devotion to your mantra.

      Because a presumptive Republican candidate for office is being attacked by fellow Republicans for not being sufficiently conservative… and you think the problem is the Indiana Democratic Party (who can’t elect anyone in this state) and the mainstream media.

      A reminder that the race for Secretary of State just a few months ago was between brains and integrity and slavish party loyalty to someone who, a reminder, was too incompetent to even hold an entry level position in that same office.

      The Party won bigly… because Destiny Wells, to people like you, was “evil”. What garbage.

      Mitch Daniels has no place in a Republican Party like that. Sad but true.

  14. As an independent, I vote whatever candidate is closer to my beliefs.Not saying that I would even vote in the GOP primary but the Club for Growth commercial against Daniels would a mark in Daniels’ favor in my mind. This commercial may actually backfire.

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