As Steve Hayward noted this morning, Mitch Daniels has bowed out of the GOP presidential race. Some analysts find this highly significant; I don’t. Daniels, in my view, is a good guy who was a fine governor but suffers from weak instincts on foreign policy. Worse, he is one of the most nondescript individuals ever taken seriously as a presidential candidate. To this day, I am not confident that I could pick him out of a lineup. The idea that Daniels is the strongest candidate the GOP can muster strikes me as a fantasy. In my opinion, he had no serious chance of getting the nomination.
Some commentators say that Daniels’ decision not to run benefits Tim Pawlenty. That is probably right, in that GOP voters who are looking for a former governor with a solidly conservative fiscal record, and who might have been attracted to Daniels, are likely to focus on Pawlenty instead. Pawlenty, I think, is like Daniels only a more attractive politician, with better foreign policy instincts and no personal complications.
Tomorrow, Pawlenty will officially announce that he is in the race. No surprise there. In anticipation of his announcement, he released this video. It is good, I think:
Can Pawlenty beat President Obama? Sure. The Obama administration has been an economic fiasco and a foreign policy embarrassment. Pawlenty is smarter than Obama–I say that as someone who knows him personally–and his views are far more in keeping with those of the American people, among whom conservatives outnumber liberals by around two to one.
So the Republican race remains wide open, but I don’t think Mitch Daniels’ absence significantly affects events between now and November 2012.
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