White House bid still pos­si­ble, In­di­ana’s Gov. Daniels says

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY DAVID ELDRIDGE

In­di­ana Repub­li­can Gov. Mitch Daniels, on a closely watched Wash­ing­ton visit, said May 4 that it’s not too late to toss his hat into the ring if he de­cides on a White House run in 2012.

The pop­u­lar con­ser­va­tive gov­er­nor, a one-time top bud­get aide to for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush who is mid­way through his sec­ond term, said re­cently he will de­cide on whether he will run within weeks.

At a packed gather­ing at the Amer­i­can En­ter­prise In­sti­tute de­voted os­ten­si­bly to his ed­u­ca­tion agenda, Mr. Daniels ad­dressed talk that he may have waited too long to jump into the cam­paign.

“Peo­ple far more sage than I about our po­lit­i­cal and pres­i­den­tial process are very sur­prised, that on May 4th it’s not al­ready far too late, but for what­ever rea­son, it’s not. I con­sider that, from the stand­point of the pub­lic, a bless­ing,” he said.

“Un­less you’re a po­lit­i­cal pro­fes­sional or run­ning a bed-and- break­fast in New Hamp­shire, it’s a darn good thing that we’ll have a nom­i­na­tion cam­paign mea­sured in months and not years,” Mr. Daniels said, draw­ing a round of laugh­ter.

The In­di­ana gov­er­nor has gen­er­ally played down talk of a pres­i­den­tial bid, but a new poll shows he is pulling as much sup­port in the Repub­li­can Party as other sec­ond-tier can­di­dates who have been hit­ting the stump reg­u­larly in early cau­cus and pri­mary states, such as Iowa and New Hamp­shire, in­clud­ing for­mer Min­nesota Gov. Tim Paw­lenty, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, for­mer House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Michele Bach­mann.

A Quin­nip­iac Univer­sity poll re­leased May 4 shows Mr. Daniels and those four po­ten­tial can­di­dates bunched to­gether in a tie for fifth, each pulling about 5 per­cent among Repub­li­can vot­ers. For­mer Mas­sachusetts Gov. Mitt Rom­ney topped the poll with 18 per­cent sup­port, fol­lowed by for­mer Arkansas Gov. Mike Huck­abee, for­mer Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and bil­lion­aire de­vel­oper Don­ald Trump.

Quin­nip­iac poll­ster Peter Brown said Mr. Daniels or an­other of the “un­knowns” still had time to break out of the pack.

“Many of the rel­a­tive un­knowns could have large up­sides if they can get out their mes- sages, since they will not have to erase a bad first im­pres­sion,” he said.

Mr. Daniels had said he would not make a de­ci­sion while the In­di­ana Gen­eral Assem­bly was in session. State lawmakers wrapped up their work in Indi- anapo­lis on April 29, send­ing a land­mark ed­u­ca­tion-over­haul pack­age to the gov­er­nor, who signed the leg­is­la­tion the next day.

The 62-year-old gov­er­nor is be­ing cred­ited for the re­forms, which in­clude ex­panded sup­port for charter schools, more free­dom for par­ents and stu­dents to leave fail­ing pub­lic schools and changes to teacher-ten­ure rules that will em­pha­size per­for­mance over se­nior­ity.

Un­der the new rules in In­di­ana, teach­ers will be eval­u­ated an­nu­ally and rated ac­cord­ing to the per­for­mance of their stu­dents, Mr. Daniels said. Teach­ers with poor rat­ings won’t re­ceive an­nual raises. Col­lec­tive-bar­gain­ing rights have also been lim­ited.

The gov­er­nor, who drew crit­i­cism from some on the right last year when he called for a “truce” on so­cial is­sues, also signed a bill passed dur­ing the just-fin­ished session that will strip Planned Par­ent­hood in In­di­ana of fed­eral fund­ing, one of the tough­est such anti-abor­tion fund­ing re­stric­tions in the coun­try.

Mulling it over: Mitch Daniels

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