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The Mitch Daniels moment

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jan 24, 2012

Many months ago, looking at the way the presidential race was shaping up, I made a prediction. I said that Mitt Romney would be the overwhelming Republican favorite—right up until the voting began. From that point forward, I said, the odds of his winning the nomination would fall steadily.

Thus far that prediction looks solid. So let me make another—a short-term prediction this time—and put it on the record:

  • Tonight President Obama will deliver his State of the Union speech.
  • Then Indiana’s Governor Mitch Daniels will give the Republican response.
  • And within 24 hours the Draft Mitch Daniels movement will be the biggest news on the campaign front.

When I first predicted that Romney would fade from his front-running spot, I assumed that strong Republican candidates would rise up to challenge him. That assumption was wrong. To date, Romney’s challengers have all come from the second tier of potential GOP contenders.

Actually you could argue that the draft-Daniels possibility has already begun to emerge the hottest current topic regarding the Republican primary race.

Why is this happening? It’s fairly simple. For months, Republican voters (and poll respondents) have been sending the same message. They don’t want Mitt Romney. They want Someone Else. Each of Romney’s challengers has enjoyed a crest of popularity, not because of who they are but because of who they are not. Each has been identified for a short while as Someone Else. Now the GOP has run out of alternatives. But the voters (and the Party leaders) are still searching for alternatives. When Mitch Daniels pops up on the TV screens this evening, tens of thousands of Republicans will immediately recognize him: Not as the Governor of Indiana, but as Someone Else.

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  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Jan. 25, 2012 5:30 PM ET USA

    Sorry, Mr. Lawler. I found Mr. Daniels to be an island of dullness floating in a sea of Republican cliches. Guess we're stuck with the field.

  • Posted by: CAVALIEREC9724 - Jan. 24, 2012 9:31 PM ET USA

    Why promote Gov Daniels who has yet to repudiate his position of subordinating the Pro life and pro traditional marriage issues to economic issues?

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