Those who've opted out of the GOP presidential nomination race — Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump, John Thune, Haley Barbour, and Mike Pence — have generated more buzz than the actual candidates, raising fears that the GOP will botch an opportunity to make Barack Obama a one-term president. No wonder GOP strategists are "virtually begging" Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to run, says Mike Allen at Politico. The "bland, wonkish Daniels," admired on the Right for his fiscally conservative chops, says he'll make a decision soon. Is he the candidate Republicans can believe in?
Yes, the GOP needs a serious candidate: Daniels has a stellar record on health care and education, says Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post. "He is smart, articulate, good with facts and figures, and is, by any measure, a serious candidate." He's also "down-to-earth" enough to "relate to relatively non-ideological, middle-class voters" — a consitutency the party will need to win back the White House. "Would Daniels be a positive addition to the race? With the current field, it's hard to say he wouldn't."
"Mitch Daniels: A mixed bag"
But he's just so boring: There's no denying that the fiscally conservative Daniels, George W. Bush's former budget director, is a viable candidate, says Daniel Larison at The American Conservative. But his wonkish strengths probably "strike most casual observers of politics as very boring." And right now, the GOP needs someone who is capable of exciting a depressed party. Daniels isn't that awe-inspiring conservative hero.
"Pawlenty and Daniels are unlikely insurgent candidates"
Who needs Daniels? Pawlenty ought to be good enough: Republican elites should quit waiting to be "swept off their feet" by Daniels, or Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, for that matter, says Jonathan Chait in The New Republic. Where's the love for Tim Pawlenty? He "seems like an adequate nominee" in the mold of Daniels and Co. And sooner or later, Republicans will likely settle for T-Paw, especially "if that white knight fails to ride in — or if he rides in and falls on his face."
"The GOP elite's not-so-secret presidential hopes and fears"