In today's Washington Examiner, Byron York prods into Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels' potential future as GOP savior and flag-bearer in 2012. As York notes, Daniels is immensely popular in his home state--in fact, his 69 percent approval rating is 16 points higher than Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's, and his 68 percent favorable rating is six points higher than President Obama's. On top of that, he won reelection by a hefty margin of 18 points in 2008 even as Obama carried the state.
As Chris Cillizza points out, Daniels is a populist (*or, as a reader notes below, just a governor with an RV)--and populism is an interesting prospect for the Republican Party.
Ironically, his explanation of why he won't run, as he explained it to York, might make him even more appealing, in a post-political sort of way:
So Daniels is hot -- well, as hot as a Republican possibility can be at this moment. But press him all you like, and he'll swear he won't run for president. In Washington Wednesday, Daniels described staying out of the race as an almost moral obligation.
"A lot of what we have tried to do in this adventure has been to resolutely live up to our words," Daniels said. "I would like to leave my state a little less cynical than we found it because a group of people came and went and really did what they said. And this is one of those things. I said I was going to serve four years, I'm going to serve four years, do my best at it, and not be on the make for something else, as many people in public life appear to be."