Mitch Daniels as Mario Cuomo

Well I got that one spectacularly wrong. As I said last week, three people close to the Governor had told me he absolutely was in. They said it was more than reading tea leaves. But they were wrong and I was wrong. To be fair, or at least in damage control mode, all indications even up to Friday were that Daniels was in, but something changed in the last two days.


Happy to be wrong on this one.

The parallels to 1991 continue unabated.

In 1991, Democrats and the media waited with ever increasing intensity for Mario Cuomo to get into the Presidential race. Eventually, Cuomo decided he was more comfortable being Governor of New York than facing an incumbent Republican President with a 90% approval rating.

Democrats and the media lamented the lack of a stellar, high profile Democratic candidate.

The Democrats went on to win without Mario Cuomo. The Republicans still have a strong shot without Mitch Daniels.

So who does this help now? Well, obviously it helps Mitt Romney. There will now be only one high profile gubernatorial wonk in the race. It also helps Newt Gingrich for the same reason, for people looking for someone perceived to be to the right of Romney.

But I think the guy it helps the most is Tim Pawlenty. He now has a clear shot at being the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney.

Unfortunately for fiscal conservatives, there is not anyone in the race right now presently perceived by the chattering class as viable who truly lines up with small government types. Pawlenty is really going to have to explain some of his record to get there.


Huntsman is going to make a play now for the moderate voters and media as the new darling. That’ll help him generate buzz and name identification. I don’t see it ultimately helping him though.

And now all eyes can focus on Sarah Palin. But I suspect we’re going to hear continued buzz about others possibly getting in, including now increased media speculation about Congressman Paul Ryan.

By the way, if Mourdock keeps the heat up on Lugar, I’d say we might see Daniels replace Lugar in the primary.


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