Mitch Daniels: I’m Probably Not Ready To Debate The President On Foreign Policy

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels keeps sending mixed signals about whether or not he really wants to run for President, the most recent being his possibly-too-candid comments about foreign policy:

Daniels said that “it cannot be illegitimate to ask” if some of the country’s military commitments should be unwound, but he has not yet reached any conclusions about which should be—or, at least, any he is willing to share. On Afghanistan he refuses to second-guess the decisions of the president, to whose greater access to information he defers. On Libya he says only that he has not seen the case for intervention made. One gets the impression of someone who is much more cautious about foreign intervention than Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty, but also cautious about saying so. He was asked if he were ready to debate President Obama on foreign policy. “Probably not.”

As Allahpundit says, one wonders why someone who is seriously considering running for President would say such a thing, but perhaps that’s because he doesn’t really want to run for President:

“I encouraged four different people to run,” he says, and failed. (He wouldn’t name them but Haley Barbour appears to have been one of them.) At one point he used the words “if I talk myself into this” when discussing a run of his own. Why might he run? “I believe the country’s at a very perilous point arithmetically. And I haven’t yet—still hope to—seen anyone else step up to it. . . . So far my brethren have been a little hesitant.”

I like Mitch Daniels a lot and I’ve always considered him one of the only potential GOP candidates I could see myself voting for in 2012, Gary Johnson being the other one. However comments such as this, along with the strange dance he’s been playing with media, make me wonder if he won’t end up being 2012’s version of Fred Thompson, a candidate who everyone wanted to get into the race but who’s heart really isn’t in it. In Thompson’s case, that manifested itself in a lackluster campaign If Daniels really is serious about running, he’s doing a great job of hiding it right now.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. michael reynolds says:

    Actually, this makes me more inclined to like him. He’s being honest. He’s not ready to debate foreign policy with Mr. Obama.

  2. ml says:

    Mr. Daniels is not going to run for President in 2012.

  3. Tlaloc says:

    I had a soft spot for Jesse Ventura too, I admit it.

  4. Franklin says:

    Agree with Mr. Reynolds here. Although I’ll admit this much: telling the truth doesn’t get you elected.

  5. tom p says:

    Agree with Mr. Reynolds here. Although I’ll admit this much: telling the truth doesn’t get you elected.

    An honest politician? Who would vote for such a creature??? I’m with MR here, I hate his policies, but his honesty has me intrigued……

  6. Tano says:

    I believe the country’s at a very perilous point arithmetically.

    Along with foreign policy cred, he seems to also need a little help with general messaging.
    This is not the phrasing that will inspire and warm hearts in the January snows of Iowa.

    He seems like a pretty smart guy. Which means he probably realizes that a run in 2016 would have much better chances of success. An open election would be far easier than trying to take down Obama, and there is a fair chance that after flaming out with a base-pandering radical in ’12, the GOP may well be ready for a serous candidate, like Daniels, in ’16.

  7. Moosebreath says:

    I would love Daniels to run for a totally selfish reason. Every time anyone points out Bush the Younger’s lack of fiscal responsibility, we hear the talking point that true conservatives opposed items like creating a new entitlement which was totally unpaid for, but were just not heard. Daniels was W’s Budget Director, and his fingerprints are all over the fiscal irresponsibility of that Administration.

    So if conservatives are willing to support Daniels, it provides confirmation that they really don’t care about fiscal irresponsiblity, so long as Republicans do it.

  8. An Interested Party says:

    For all the praise being heaped on Daniels, I can’t help but think about the point made by Moosebreath…I mean, it’s fine and dandy to talk a good game about being fiscally responsible, but how fiscally responsible was Daniels when he was Bush’s Budget Director? If he does decide to run, the ads, particularly by his Republican competition, could be brutal…

  9. michael reynolds says:


    That is unfair!

    Republicans care about fiscal responsibility every 4 years, and then all the way through any Democratic administration.