Mitch Daniels: The Anti-Palin

Mitch Daniels is feeling popular these days. 

Not only does he have an ad starring New York’s own Jimmy “The Rent Is Too Damn High” McMillan, but conservative columnist George Will has predicted that he holds potentially great appeal to conservative voters as the anti-Obama. “If they’re disappointed with Mr. Obama, then a short, balding, unimpressive, uncharismatic, competent governor might be just the key,” Will wrote.

Politico describes Daniels as the anti-Palin, quoting The Economist’s reporting that Daniels “had never heard of 9/12, Glenn Beck’s tea-party group, before The Economist mentioned it to him.” (The Economist also referred to him as “the Likeable Wonk.”)

Daniels can also boast that he made Sugar Ray Leonard cry.

The governor of Indiana, Daniels will be term-limited out of office this year. Daniels served as budget director under President George W. Bush, and recently raised his profile as a potential candidate by penning an op-ed calling the recent health care reforms a “massive mistake.”  

He's broken ranks with the Republican Party during a discussion of Medicare and questioned the fiscal wisdom of the current approach to end-of-life care, but stopped short of endorsing Medicare reimbursements for doctors to discuss end-of-life care with their patients. 

Daniels wife is reportedly not excited about the idea of him running for President. Here he is promising voters that he never will:

 

Here's where Mr. Daniels stands on the issues:

Taking and Spending

Daniels enraged many fiscal conservatives by publicly stating an openness to the idea of a Value-Added Tax and refusing to sign the “No New Taxes” pledge.

Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist told Politico that Daniels' comments were unacceptable. “Absent some explanation, such as large quantities of crystal meth," said Norquist, "this is disqualifying. This is beyond the pale.”

Daniels had tangled with Norquist over taxes before, and remained sanguine in the face of Norquist’s ire, joking, “The only Grover they know in Indiana is the fuzzy creature on Sesame Street." Norquist fired back that Ohio Gov. Bob Taft had already used that joke in 2003. "Not only do these tax-hikers have the same tax policy, they also have the same gag writers," Norquist quipped.

Public Employee Unions

Daniels has referred to public employee unions as "the privileged elite", but has broken ranks with his party to oppose a GOP-backed "right to work" bill in Indiana.

Foreign Policy

While Daniels initially insisted he was too "provincial" to have an opinion on the situation in Egypt, he has since gone on to express support for President Obama's handling of the matter. Daniels has called himself a "water’s edge" guy on foreign policy and said Americans should support the direction the administration has taken on Egypt. 

Abortion

While Daniels opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or medical danger, and has said that international family planning funds should not go to facilities which provide abortion services, he has also said both parties should declare a truce on abortion while they focus on economic issues. 

Gay Marriage

Daniels opposes same-sex marriage and civil unions, but has said, "If there were a WMD attack, death would come to straights and gays, pro-life and pro-choice. If the country goes broke, it would ruin the American dream for everyone. We are in this together. Whatever our honest disagreements on other questions, might we set them aside long enough to do some very difficult things without which we will be a different, lesser country?"

Other social issues

He’s against affirmative action in college admissions, and supports the death penalty and gun ownership. Daniels was arrested and fined in 1970, while a junior at Princeton University, for marijuana use. He refers to the sanctions as "appropriate."