Election 2012: Mitch Daniels out, where does that leave the GOP?
Citing family considerations, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels says he will not run for president. That leaves the rest of the GOP field angling for position at a time when many Republicans are less than thrilled with the current choices.
Adriane Jaeckle/The Indianapolis Star/AP
Mitch Danielsâ€™ decision not to run for president in 2012 sets scrambling the remaining declared and likely candidates, not to mention professional campaigners, funding sources, and political pundits.
Who benefits from the Hoosier Hamletâ€™s sitting out the election? Where does that leave the more establishment candidates and the tea party outliers?
Winnowing is always inevitable, but thereâ€™s a sense among Republican voters that their champion may not be evident among the existing field.
What that leaves, as Jonathan Martin at Politico.com puts it, is â€śa GOP establishment deeply worried that the flawed options theyâ€™re left with wonâ€™t be any match for an incumbent president who seemingly wonâ€™t face a primary but is likely to shatter campaign fundraising records.â€ť
â€śI think his candidacy would have been a great addition to this race,â€ť Ryan said. "I think it's unfortunate that he's not going to run.â€ť
As much as anything else, the maneuvering among possible GOP presidential candidates has been marked by those whoâ€™ve pulled out, plus those whoâ€™ve issued Shermanesque â€śno means noâ€ť statements refusing to run.
On the other hand, as Kristol puts it, â€śinsofar as politics abhors even a near-vacuum, others are bound to get in.â€ť
Jonathan Tobin, senior online editor of the conservative magazine Commentary, says the Daniels move â€śgives a tremendous boost to former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.â€ť
â€śPawlenty â€¦ combines fiscal conservatism along with a strong appeal to evangelicals and other social conservatives,â€ť Tobin writes. â€śHe also knows what heâ€™s talking about when it comes to a presidentâ€™s main responsibility: foreign policy which is more than you can say about most of the Republicans who are running.â€ť
Meanwhile, impressions that the GOP establishment is looking to one of its own to challenge Barack Obama has left some in the partyâ€™s tea party wing grumbling.
"It's extremely upsetting to hear that the establishment is courting their own candidate when Michele Bachmann, the gold standard, has been in the fight, bucking the establishment that got us in this mess," Katrina Pierson, a tea party leader in Dallas told the Associated Press.
With Huckabeeâ€™s withdrawal, that leaves Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, and Newt Gingrich at the top of the heap in terms of name recognition and ballot position among Republicans, according to the latest Gallup poll.
But each of these three has problems.
Romney is tarred with his â€śRomneyCareâ€ť Massachusetts health insurance plan with its individual mandate requiring coverage. Most Americans say theyâ€™d never vote for Palin. And Gingrich may never recover from his calling Rep. Ryan's Medicare proposal "right-wing social engineering."
As for Daniels â€“ the Indiana Governor with a strong and proven record on budget cutting â€“ it was clear from his statement Saturday night that his decision not to run was based on family considerations.
Though heâ€™s answered the question many times, heâ€™d continually have to explain his unusual marriage.
In the end, it was the opinion of his wife and four adult daughters that made the difference.
â€śWhat could have been a complicated decision was in the end very simple: on matters affecting us all, our family constitution gives a veto to the womenâ€™s caucus, and there is no override provision,â€ť he said in his statement. â€śSimply put, I find myself caught between two duties. I love my country; I love my family more.â€ť