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Mitch Daniels: Rick Perry, or any Republican who breathes, could win

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels says the nation’s economic situation 'has become so grave and the failure of current policy so obvious' that Rick Perry or any other Republican could beat Obama.

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Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels speaks at a Monitor-hosted breakfast for reporters in Washington, D.C., on Friday.

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Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels says that Texas Gov. Rick Perry could beat President Obama, but so could “any Republican who breathes and speaks English.”

Governor Daniels was Ronald Reagan’s political director and the budget director for George W. Bush. He withdrew from presidential consideration himself in May, citing family concerns.

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The two-term Midwestern governor told reporters at a Monitor-hosted breakfast Friday that if he had been asked about Mr. Perry’s electability a year ago he would have said, “I think he has been a good governor, but I don’t think that will fly.”

But, Daniels argued, the nation’s economic situation “has become so grave and the failure of current policy so obvious that I think all kinds of people could be elected,” including Perry. The Texas governor is the current front-runner among Republican presidential hopefuls. In Thursday evening’s GOP debate, however, Perry stumbled on several questions, causing conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer to say on Fox News, “He’s still the rookie in the field.”

Daniels said that he hoped he was wrong but he did not see any major economic improvement in the next year. “In that situation … it could be that any Republican who breathes and speaks English becomes the default option” for president.

Echoing a theme in his new book, “Keeping the Republic,” Daniels said that merely winning the 2012 presidential race is not enough. “Winning the next election without having really prepared the country and maybe rally the country to do some big things, would be a huge lost opportunity,” Daniels said.

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