Politico reports that Mitch Daniels is now openly laying the groundwork for a presidential run. This is not the coy bid for "optics" routinely pulled by presumed candidates Palin, Romney, and Gingrich not a trip to Iowa or New Hampshire to meet the demos, not a shiny new book full of apple pie and empty promises. It's a sit-down with a dozen of the Republican party's machers. It's as serious as a heart attack. And I think it means we've just met the party's 2012 presidential candidate. Daniels is, among other things, the only inarguably successful politician in serious contention. Palin quit office, Romney flubbed 2008, Huckabee likewise, Gingrich retired in disgrace, and Pawlenty is leaving office amid tanking approval ratings. Daniels is and long has been enviably popular in his home state of Indiana (current approval rating: 65 percent), largely thanks to what can only be called his prudent conservatism.
In a less charitable take, Chait threw cold water on Daniels' budget proposals last week.