GOP governors: Hope for 2012?

The Republican governors of Wisconsin, New Jersey, and Indiana have seen their popularity rise as a result of their political candor, but they are unlikely to run in 2012.

“Who put the hot sauce in the Republican governors’ oatmeal?” said Ruben Navarrette in At a time when the country is desperately in need of real leadership, a trio of Republican governors is showing a commodity rare in politics today: courage. In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker is standing up to the state’s public-employee unions, insisting they help close a $3.6 billion budget shortfall by surrendering benefits. In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie has already gone head-to-head with teachers unions on pensions and benefits, and recently suggested that we fix Social Security by raising the retirement age from 65 to 70. “I just said it,” Christie said, laughing. “And I’m still standing here. I did not vaporize.” Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels may be even gutsier, said Michael Barone in National Review Online. Daniels recently said that the only way to reduce “our morbidly obese federal government” is to totally overhaul Social Security and Medicare. Such candor is supposed to be fatal for politicians, but all three governors have only seen their popularity rise as a result.

The contrast with President Obama is striking, said Michael Gerson in The Washington Post. Obama’s 2012 budget utterly fails to address entitlement reform and deficits. Daniels, in particular, not only addresses them; he’s laid out a blueprint for cutting spending, saying, for example, that “Medicare 2.0” should harness market forces by putting health-care dollars in the control of seniors, and letting them choose the best insurance plans. Unfortunately, Daniels—like Christie—has said he probably won’t run for president in 2012, said David Brooks in The New York Times. But as a “practical Midwesterner” with bipartisan instincts and an excellent fiscal record in Indiana, Daniels is the GOP’s strongest potential candidate. “Run, Mitch, run.”

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