Cheri Daniels Speech Earns Raves, Advice from Laura Bush

Wife of potential 2012 candidate Mitch Daniels gave her first political speech Thursday

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Cheri Daniels gave her first political speech ever Thursday night, introducing her husband, Gov. Mitch Daniels, before a crowd of 1,100 at the Indiana Republican Party spring dinner as reporters and conservatives listened for any clues that he might run for president. Cheri is believed to be the main reason Daniels hasn't jumped in the race--and it's likely that's why Laura Bush called her to talk about how to be a campaign wife, as CBS News' Jan Crawford reports. But Cheri didn't offer a sign that her husband is running--she didn't even mention politics, instead telling jokes and generally portraying her experience as Indiana's first lady as a lot like one of those romantic comedies where the star falls down a lot.

"I too have received some very prestigious awards," Cheri said, according to Politico's Jonathan Martin, as a slideshow flashed some orange short shorts. “I think this speaks for itself, but I am an honorary Hooters girl." She talked about a whiskey sours-heavy prom for old folks, flipping pancakes at the State Fair, a cow-milking contest, and so on. "I truly appreciate the encouragement you have given Mitch," she told the crowd, but she did not follow that with something like "for his run for president."

Mitch Daniels referred to his wife's resistance to his political career. “It does not overstate the case to say that this was not her first choice," he said of his decision to quit George W. Bush's Office of Management and Budget chief to run for governor. "You have to decide if this is really the way you want to spend maybe the rest of your life, and is it the right thing for your family," he told reporters. "You ought not underestimate the fact that there's not one woman involved--there's five." Cheri echoed that, saying, "It's not just me... I have four daughters and I have three sons-in-law and everybody has a voice."

Laura Bush, USA Today's Catalina Camia notes, was reluctant to get into politics, too. But Laura Bush got over it and eventually became popular on the stump, and when the Bushes moved out of the White House, Laura's approval rating was twice as high as her husband's.

After their speeches, Mitch Daniels joined 55 students at a bar a few blocks from the dinner, Real Clear Politics' Erin McPike reports. They asked who he'd pick for vice president if he were to run, and--continuing on a Bush theme--Daniels told them he'd choose former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

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