Asked about the prospect of running for president in 2012, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said, “Can’t you name 100 reasons that no sane person would do this?”
But in the end, the Republican governor appears to be leaving the door ajar for a White House run, despite what he called "the savagery of our politics."
"The simple fact is, I don’t plan to do it, I don’t expect to do it, I really don’t want to do it,” Governor Daniels said at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters on Tuesday. In Washington parlance, that's considered short of an outright denial.
He initially opened the door to a presidential bid while attending the National Governors Association meeting in Washington over the weekend. As the Washington Post’s Dan Balz notes, Daniels had earlier ruled out running for the White House. But he told Mr. Balz that after being questioned about a run by several people, “Just to get them off my back, I agreed to a number of people that I will now stay open to the idea.”
At Tuesday's breakfast, Daniels said, “I’m sincerely concerned, first time I ever would say this, for the future of the American experiment.” He cited the nation's out-of-whack balance sheet (the Monitor writes about that problem here), the threat of “terrorism plus technology,” and “paying the worst people in the world hundreds of billions of dollars a year to make war on us when we buy their oil.”
As for the current tenor of the political conversation, Daniels advised Republicans to speak in an "inviting and friendly" tone. “I would like to see our party conduct itself in a way that allows it to govern and not merely win an election,” he said.
Daniels served in President Reagan’s White House as chief political adviser and in George W. Bush’s administration as director of the Office of Management and Budget. Between stints in Washington, he returned to Indiana and became senior vice president of drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co. Daniels was handily reelected to a second term as governor in 2008 in what was not a banner year for Republicans elsewhere.
“We are getting a lot of things done," Daniels said of his tenure in Indiana. "There is the prospect … about some more exciting things” that can be done for Hoosiers, he said.