Mitch Daniels should run for president

Even though the 2020 Presidential election is over a year away, possible opponents to Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump campaign buys full page ads in Miami newspapers ahead of Dem debates Trump administration's 'forced diplomacy' with Iran isn't working Roy Moore trails Republican field in Alabama MORE seem to be lining up. One name that should be included is Republican Mitch Daniels, now Purdue University’s President and former two-term Governor of Indiana.

Daniels took his name out of the running against President Obama, citing family concerns at the time. Perhaps he could be persuaded that America needs him now. Although Mr. Trump would be a formidable candidate, so would Daniels appeal to women and independents, two groups that showed-up strongly in the 2018 Congressional elections.

No one likes to be politically vilified, but Mr. Trump may not be able to get away with the insults he hurled at opponents in 2016. He’s facing not only potential criminal proceedings, but possible impeachment charges from a Democratic caucus. While it’s doubtful the U.S. Senate would convict on any impeachment charges, if Mr. Trump faces defeat, perhaps he’ll resign first.


In any event, Mitch Daniels would be a formidable candidate. Formerly head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), he knows how government works and is experienced at government innovation. As a former popular Indiana Governor, he understands state government, too. His recent interviews with the Wall Street Journal and television’s “Firing Line” showed his considerable innovation and freshness as well as his popularity among younger voters. His consequential conservatism and common sense make him attractive to voters of all ages, a benefit for the American system.

He’d never embarrass the United States and wouldn’t be at war with the national press. He’d be able to grow as an individual (he’s intellectually curious) and wouldn’t be stuck with stagnant approval ratings, in spite of a strong national economy.

Daniels understands America’s national government and likely doesn’t consider the nation’s capital as a “swamp,” instead believing that Washington, DC, is full of experienced people who love their country. He’s savvy enough to weed out the self-serving and the sycophants, and instead appoint individuals who will “do right” by the American people.

Americans recently found in a WSJ poll that America is on the “wrong track,” in spite of a strong national economy (recently made weaker by stock market losses). A lot of America’s pessimism results from dismay with the President’s relationship with the “new” Congress elected in 2018. Americans fear that the next two years will be filled with Congressional Democrats investigating Mr. Trump’s every move, looking at past Trump and Trump family actions for indiscretions, legally and politically.

Rather than facing disruptions and uncertainty internationally, Americans seek certainty and predictability in government affairs. Mitch Daniels can meet their expectations without the drama of today’s politics and the insecurity of the current President. A little wisdom and example-setting go far when Americans consider the Oval Office.


Mitch Daniels is conservative but not a nutty conservative — less dogmatic and more practical than many right-wingers — yet still principled. He vowed to make the Indiana Department of Motor Vehicles effective — no citizen would have to wait more than ten minutes for service — and he fulfilled that promise while serving as Governor. That’s practical service and Daniels performed it throughout government. He left the Governorship with innovation and a fresh approach to governing. He now serves Purdue University, employing some of the education changes he brought to state government.

Though he’s criticized by opponents for certain of his innovations, he’s credited with a largely successful tenure in Indiana, inspiring others as he made state government changes. Perhaps that is his strongest legacy — inspiring others.

Presidents exist to inspire others. President George H.W. Bush did so with his “1000 Points of Light” campaign. President George W. Bush did so after the tragedies of 9/11. President Obama can be credited with turning out millions of black voters who supported him. President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonImpeaching the president: At what cost, and by what method? The Evergreen State and the soul of the Democratic Party Biden, Eastland and rejecting the cult of civility MORE’s photographic memory helped him politically.

Mitch Daniels can inspire all Americans by bringing tradition and dignity back to the White House. He’s strong enough to pick good and responsible people who would be attracted to government service. He’s not insecure, and he’s personally wealthy enough to be solid in his political and policy outlook. Though probably not as wealthy as Mr. Trump, he’d never let greed and insecurity creep into his policy decisions, always remembering that he serves the public, not the other way around.

Mitch Daniels should be a candidate for President of the United States. The likelihood is he’s electable, because he’s what America needs.

George Nethercutt is the former Republican Congressman from the 5th District of Washington and a former member of the National Security Appropriations Subcommittee.