If Mitch Daniels runs for President he has the potential to be a formidable opponent for Barack Obama. But Daniels has a problem. He has called for a political “truce” on social issues. That is not going to happen with the growing, far-right takeover of the Republican Party. They are looking for purification and will welcome only true believers. Obama’s re-election team has to be praying that the party flies off the hinges in the primaries and nominates a Palin or a Bachman or a Santorum or even a Gingrich.
Daniels has already proven to be deft on the social issue front. He basically stood aside and let Republicans in the legislature push through the anti-Planned Parenthood bill. He pretty much just signed it. That will add a little something to his resume with the social conservatives, but I doubt he wants to spend the next year and a half talking about abortion, gay marriage and anti-immigration measures.
He is smart enough to know that the Obama Achilles (for now) is the economy and jobs.
He is also smart enough to portray himself as reasonable in any debates with Obama. That will be Obama’s strength in a run for a second term; he comes across as cool, confident and reasonable. He will also play the card of a president who tried his mightiest to reach across political lines but was rebuffed at every turn.
But what happens if his opponent also comes across that way?
I only see two Republicans with that combination of skills: Daniels and Jon Huntsman, Jr., the former Governor of Utah and former Ambassador to China.
America has a long history of weeding out fringe candidates and wing nuts during the long Presidential election process. In fact that is the only good thing about these unwieldy and lengthy marathons.
But times change, and it will be most interesting to see what happens or does not happen this time around.