It’s way too soon to be picking favorites, but we have to admit to some disappointment at Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ decision not to enter the presidential race - both because of who he is and because of what his decision may presage for 2012.
Mr. Daniels, a Republican, had made clear that the national debt would have been issues No. 1, 2 and 3 for him. His sense of urgency is warranted, and he had the record as governor to back up his message: tough on spending without being doctrinaire on revenue. Though we would have disagreed on some of his priorities, he might have succeeded in pushing President Obama toward more seriousness on deficit reduction than the president has shown thus far and sparked a valuable, honest debate about the proper size and role of government.
We accept at face value Mr. Daniels’ explanation for sitting out the race, which is that his wife and daughters really didn’t want him to run. But there’s also no question that the primaries, and especially the Iowa caucuses, would have been tough for him. Mr. Daniels had alarmed his party’s social conservatives with his statement early on that the seriousness of America’s fiscal challenge argued for a truce on other divisive issues. He later modified and clarified that remark, but he didn’t back away from the underlying message that compromise is essential to governing. “Purity in martyrdom is for suicide bombers,” he told a conservative audience earlier this year. “We have learned in Indiana, big change requires big majorities.”
There’s nothing new in Republicans running to the right in their presidential primaries and tacking back toward the center to try to win the general election. Democrats do the same, running first to the left, and candidates of both parties run toward ethanol until they are safely past Iowa. The worry this year is that they will run so far toward unreality that they will have a hard time coming back.
— Washington Post