Saturday, August 1, 2009

Who DOESN'T Think Mitch is Jockeying?

I know Mitch Daniels said he's not running for national office in 2012. Then why did the staff of My Man Mitch send out an e-mail a month or so ago touting all of his national press? The intro paragraph reads:

"Mitch has been grabbing all kinds of national attention lately for his focus on reform and results. While other states are cutting education and raising taxes, Mitch has proposed a budget that increases school funding and does not include a tax increase.

You've known how great Mitch is all along, but we couldn't pass up a chance to share some of the recent kudos for our favorite Gov!"

Was it a Freudian slip to say he has been "grabbing" all kinds of attention? I don't think so. A candidate who really doesn't want to run tells his people to shut down the campaign. He doesn't leave national bread crumbs everywhere so people can start following him. In the past six months, Daniels' stories have included:

"What Would Daniels Do?" - The National Review
"Mitch the Knife" - The National Review
"A Hobbled March Forward" - The Economist
"The Idealism of Mitch Daniels" - The Atlantic Monthly
"Can Mitch Daniels Save the GOP?" - The Washington Examiner
"Low-Key Governor Becomes Leading GOP Voice on Climate" - The New York Times
"Mitch Daniels: Republican Revolutionary" - The Washington Post
"Indiana Says 'No Thanks' to Cap and Trade - The New York Times
"A Hoosier in the White House?" - The Weekly Standard
"Daniels on Changing the 'Party of No' - National Journal

Somebody is churning Daniels' profile nationally, or these stories wouldn't have run, folks. And given that Daniel's campaign manager was sending out a story about his victory in December of 2008 to Michael Barone of U.S. News and World Report, you can draw your own conclusion on who that might be. (Can anybody explain why an Indiana governor would be sending information about his political strength to a national political writer, if not to raise his own profile?)

Call this "The Anatomy of a 'Draft Me' Campaign." You have your people raise your profile while you completely deny interest. Then you let the rest of the world take over. After all, one Republican nerd with the hots for a beauty queen transformed Sarah Palin into a household name.

Maybe that explains Americans for Mitch, the "Mitch Daniels for President" Facebook page, or the GOPTrunk and Republican Depot's mercs for Daniels (including some nicely-embroidered "Daniels for President" golf shirts. It also explains why Daniels is getting mad kudos in the conservatorati blog sites, like Red State. (The Daily Kos takes a preemptive swipe at Daniels, meaning (a) it's pretty clear that Democrats think Daniels is getting traction; and (b) nobody is buying his "I'm not selling in 2012" mantra.

My Little League baseball coach used to tell us to run as hard as we could can to first base even if we hit the ball right at someone because a defender can bobble the pick-up or make an errant throw, and the first baseman can muff the catch. If you slow down and then try to sprint again after you see the error, you're still going to get thrown out, but not if you run the whole time.

Daniels' people are sure running full speed, and he's sure not coaching them any differently. Maybe he's telling the truth, and he won't serve in another elected office. Can anybody say cabinet secretary Daniels?



Anonymous said...

I doubt he will be a candiate for another elected office, and I doubt he would take a job that would require that he live in DC full time. Still, stranger things have heppened.

Given the woeful lack of GOP bench strength, it's not surprising that pundits would write about one of the few elected Republicans in the nation with a high approval rating and a balanced budget - especially in a rustbelt state.

Chris Worden said...

Anon 7:42 p.m.:

I'm not even saying Daniels is not telling the truth when his says is current thinking is that he will not run. But the man didn't get where he is being a fool. You keep "running" to maximize options. If Daniels saw a Palin-style, meteoric rise in national standing, do you believe he'd say no? I don't. I think he'll feel it's his duty to "save the country" and his party. Or at least that's what he'll say.

Eric Seymour said...

Isn't it possible Mitch and his team are just promoting him in order to maximize his political capital (which would be just as useful in Hoosier politics as it would be in seeking national office)?

If the economy is substantially better by 2012 than it is now (and it most likely will be), Obama is going to be hard to beat. That's assuming some other huge event doesn't occur and alter the equation, but the base case is that Obama will be a very strong incumbent. Therefore, a politician who really desires to be President would be looking more to 2016 than 2012.

(By the way, it was my impression that Sarah Palin didn't rise to national prominence until after McCain had picked her as his running mate.)