While Mitch Daniels has not made his 2012 presidential plans known, some think he could be the weapon the GOP need to defeat Obama.
Top Republicans are increasingly convinced that President Barack Obama will be easily reelected if stronger GOP contenders do not emerge, and some are virtually begging Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to add some excitement to the slow-starting nomination race.
It’s a sign of the GOP’s straits that the party is depending on the bland, wonkish Daniels for an adrenaline boost.
But interviews this week with longtime party activists and strategists made clear that many in the Republican establishment are unnerved by a field led by Mitt Romney, who could have trouble confronting Obama on health reform; Tim Pawlenty, who has yet to ignite excitement; Jon Huntsman, who may be too moderate to get the nomination; and Newt Gingrich, weighed down by personal baggage and a sense that he is a polarizing figure from the 1990s.
Despairing Republican lobbyists say their colleagues don’t ask, “Who do you like?” but instead, “Who do we back?”
“It’s not that they’re up in arms,” said a central player in the GOP money machine. “It’s just that they’re depressed.”
And a huge swath of operatives, donors and strategists remain uncommitted, in the hope that the field is not yet set.
Daniels has gone radio silent to many of his backers but said Tuesday he’s “not going to take much longer” to make a decision on whether he’ll run. But the Indiana governor said he doesn’t have a timetable for announcing that decision once it’s made.