Freddy Gray Freddy Gray

A word for Mitch

In the magazine’s cover piece this week (read it here or subscribe from just £1/issue), Richard Littlejohn described the rather feeble assortment of Republican contenders for next year’s presidential elections. But he left out Mitch Daniels, the Governor of Indiana, who seems to be emerging as a favourite among American conservatives.
Daniels hasn’t yet declared his candidacy, and at first glance he comes across as a dweeb. But it would be foolish to underrate him. In 2008, against a tide of Obama-mania, Daniels won the Indiana governorship with ease. He got more votes, in fact, than any candidate in the state’s history.

The secret of Daniels’s success is his winningly awkward Pennsylvanian manner. He seems affable, modest, Presbyterian – an unassuming American. On the campaign trail in 2008, he spent his nights staying in the homes of strangers. He also rides a Harley Davidson, which gives him the (not inconsiderable) biker vote and a certain free-spirit cred. 
Moreover, at a time when Americans are horrified at their gargantuan levels of national debt, Daniels is distinguishing himself as a deficit hawk. In a much-lauded speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, he described the country’s debt crisis as the ‘new red menace’. Pitched against a President whom many Americans, not just the crazies, think of as a socialist, he could do well.

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