New Book Portrays Gov. Daniels’ Role, Considerations in 2012 Presidential Election

Oh, don't we all just love political gossip? That's kind of rhetorical, because most of us do.

Disappointing as it was for many Hoosiers, then-Gov. Mitch Daniels opted not to run for president in 2012, despite the fact that many thought he had an excellent chance of defeating President Obama. However, a new book, "Double Down: Game Change 2012," elaborates on the role Daniels did play in the election. Excerpts from the Indianapolis Star report are below. (And Star columnist Matthew Tully reported on Twitter that HBO will be making a movie based on the book, and speculation has started on who will play Daniels. Feel free to list your preferences in the comments section!)

As was extensively reported at the time, Daniels’ wife and daughters had no interest in his running or becoming president, and he ultimately deferred to them.

The book provides new details of Daniels’ consideration of his own bid, and how he tried to recruit others to run to prevent the nomination from going to Mitt Romney.

The authors of the book describe Daniels as viewing Romney as a “preprogrammed automaton” with a “plutocratic demeanor.” Those he tried to recruit as an alternative included Fred Smith, the founder and head of FedEx, and former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, the book says.

Daniels also consulted with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour as each tried to persuade one of the others to get in.

When Daniels went to Dallas for the 2011 Super Bowl, George W. Bush made a personal pitch, according to the book. In addition to saying that his fundraisers would likely back Daniels, Bush also addressed Daniels’ family concerns. Bush said, according to the book, that his wife and daughters hadn’t wanted him to run, but it worked out great for them.

Daniels also got encouragement from Bush operative Karl Rove and from 2008 GOP nominee John McCain, the book says. Others he expected would be in his camp included former Vice President Dick Cheney, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

And Daniels got the attention of Democrats with a 2011 speech to a national gathering of conservative activists that urged the country to focus on the “red menace” of the national debt. Former President Bill Clinton publicly called Daniels one of the smart Republicans and told Daniels privately that he’d watched the speech more than once, the book says. Shown a copy of Daniels’ speech, President Barack Obama said it had a lot of “reasonableness” and that he would enjoy debating Daniels…

When Daniels told supporters later that month that he wasn’t running, his voice broke.

“Look guys, I know you don’t agree, and you’re disappointed, and I’ve let you down,” the book quotes Daniels saying in the conference call. “I love my country, but I love my family more.”…

In May, the book says, Daniels gave Romney a “kick in the shins” when he told Fox News that he wasn’t being vetted to be Romney’s running mate.

“Of course not,” Daniels said. “If I thought the call was coming, I would disconnect the phone.”

Brown: Hoosier Parents Deserve Choice in Education

The following guest blog is part of our weeklong celebration of National School Choice Week:

Indiana has a lot to be proud of as it relates to education in recent years. We have become the envy of many other states, and a leader in putting the needs of students ahead of the interests of adults. It’s been about two years since Gov. Mitch Daniels led Indiana to enact a comprehensive education reform package, which was designed to enable quality teachers to succeed, empower parents to make choices for their children and allow students an opportunity to thrive in a high-quality school. One of the most notable reforms in this package was the state’s Choice Scholarship Program.   

While I realize that there is no silver bullet to reforming our education system and I remain committed to a variety of effective efforts to improve student outcomes, school choice has become my passion. Choice is a tool that empowers parents and provides students opportunities. Most importantly, it’s a tool that can help a student today – a tool that parents both want and deserve. In fact, today, over 9,000 students have taken advantage of this tool and are benefitting from Indiana’s voucher program. Many more take advantage of charter schools and other options available in this new world of choice in our state.

This week is National School Choice Week and a great opportunity for us to celebrate the increased educational opportunities we are offering our children. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity and shine a spotlight on the great things happening in our state. Attend one of the events going on across the state, visit a voucher school and witness firsthand the new opportunities students are receiving, write a letter to the editor or simply email your legislator to thank them for doing what’s in the best interest of students.

However, while we have much to celebrate, this is not a time to sit back and wait. There are over 180,000 students who remain in a “D” or “F” school in Indiana. Until this number is 0, we must not rest. As we head into the 2013 legislative session, legislators begin to consider potential expansions to the Choice Scholarship Program such as the addition of kindergarten to the program. Unfortunately, as it stands today, students must attend public school for TWO years (kindergarten and 1st grade) before becoming eligible to receive a voucher. We must remove these artificial barriers to the program and enable more families to benefit from this opportunity to choose a school that best meets their needs.

This week is a time of celebration, but also a time to remember that there is more work to be done. Please join me in thanking your legislator for all they’ve done, but remind them that we cannot rest until ALL Hoosier students have access to a high-quality option, and an opportunity to become all they can be.

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Lindsey Brown is executive director of School Choice Indiana.

I-69: Open for Business!

Today was a monumental day in Indiana transportation, with the opening of a portion of the new I-69 highway. Gov. Mitch Daniels and other leaders convened to open the road this morning near Evansville, and Daniels then rode his motorcycle to Washington (Indiana). The Indy Star reports:

Daniels called the new stretch of highway "perfect,” proclaiming it will be a source of jobs and joy for communities along route.

Daniels, joined by federal, state and local officials, this morning opened the first of three new sections of I-69 in Far-Southwestern Indiana with a ribbon-cutting ceremony near Evansville. Rep. Larry Bucshon, R-Ind. , Lt. Gov.-elect Sue Ellspermann, Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke and Norm Bafunno, president of Toyota Indiana were on hand.

Bouchon got to drive highway. He said he was thrilled with it connection the 3rd largest city with central Indiana.

Pike County commissioner Brian Davis also road the route with Daniels’ entourage. He called it both good and strange. Davis said it is great to have the county’s first interstate, but added "it was funny how quick we went through our county."

Daniels headed north to Washington and met with David Graham, a retired Daviess County farmer and longtime advocate for the new I-69 corridor, and Mark Newland, representing his late father, Jim, of the Mid-Continent Highway Coalition, another long-time advocate for the new highway.

The governor’s final stopwill be at a new interchange with U.S. 231 near Crane Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center about 20 miles west of Bloomington. According to INDOT, that stop also will “include special recognition of Indiana basketball legend Bobby Plump and Olympic gold medalist David Boudia.”

The new interstate is slated to open to the public at 6 p.m.

Thanks to Chamber VP Cam Carter for the picture, taken this morning near Evansville.

Nominations Accepted for Governor’s Service Awards

The following is a release from the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Note the various categories available to enter, which include corporate service:

The Governor’s Service Awards are Indiana’s most prestigious awards celebrating the accomplishments of dedicated volunteers and practitioners from across the state. Nominations are currently being accepted for individuals who have displayed exemplary service through volunteering in the categories of Communities of Service, Corporate Service, Youth Service, National Service, Community Service, Faith-Based Service, Volunteerism, and Lifetime Achievement. The awards are presented annually at the Governor’s Conference for Service and Nonprofit Capacity Building. In 2012, the awardees will be recognized at a special event to be held at the Governor’s residence.

As in previous years, the goal of the conference will be to provide a forum where Indiana nonprofit leaders, volunteer coordinators, national service members and service-learning participants can engage in meaningful dialogue, exchange best practices, receive meaningful training, establish partnerships, and celebrate accomplishments. Individuals can go to the OFBCI website at: http://www.in.gov/ofbci/2389.htm to learn more about the 2012 conference as well as the Government Grant Symposiums that will lead up to it.

To nominate an individual, or yourself, download the nomination form from the website at http://www.in.gov/ofbci/2390.htm. Once the form is completed, it can be submitted electronically or by mail. The OFBCI requests that all nominations be submitted by July 27, 2012.

For more information regarding the regional conferences or the service awards, please contact Debbie Pidgeon at dpidgeon@ofbci.in.gov.

Amazon Deal a Step in Right Direction

We salute Gov. Mitch Daniels and Amazon.com for coming to a recent agreement, resulting in the company collecting Indiana sales tax, beginning in 2014. We think this is a step in the right direction to level the playing field for other businesses, but, like Daniels and Amazon.com, we believe there is a clear need for a federal solution to this matter.

Governor Mitch Daniels announced today that the state has reached an agreement with Indiana’s largest online retailer, Amazon.com, Inc., to begin collecting Indiana sales tax on internet purchases.

Indiana will become the fourth state to reach such an agreement with Amazon, but the governor said he will continue to push for federal action to fairly address the issue.

“The only complete answer to this problem is a federal solution that treats all retailers and all states the same. But for now, Amazon has helped us address the largest single piece of the shortfall, and we appreciate the company working with us to find a solution,” said Daniels.

According to the agreement between Amazon and the Department of Revenue (DOR), the company will voluntarily begin to collect and remit Indiana sales tax beginning January 1, 2014 or 90 days from the enactment of federal legislation, whichever is earlier. The state will not assess the company for sales tax for other periods.

Estimates of uncollected online sales taxes are about $75 million each year. Of that, the State Budget Agency and DOR estimate that revenue from sales tax remittal by Amazon would be approximately $20 million to $25 million per year.

Speculation Time: GOP Primary Scenarios

After his narrow Iowa victory, Mitt Romney appears to be the most likely choice to garner the GOP presidential nomination. However, due to the fact that many conservatives simply don’t like him, that’s far from a certainty. CNN has an intriguing article outlining the different possibilities of how things will play out from this point on. Read the entire piece, but I have to run this portion for the die-hard Mitch Daniels enthusiasts out there:

(3) The long shot: Someone else enters the campaign (10% chance or less). Normally, this late in the game, a new entrant to the contest would be the stuff of science fiction. But conservative voters seem to be singularly dismayed by the choices in front of them: as CNN’s Erick Erickson tweeted last night, "Typical of email I’m getting: ‘If you put a gun to my head and said Romney or Santorum I would say pull the trigger.’"

Who would step into the fray? One hears voters pining for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (unlikely to join, especially after endorsing Romney) and some have floated Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (who endorsed Perry). Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush would be a strong candidate, but that may be a tough sell to Bushed-out voters only four years after the conclusion of his brother’s presidency.

Would a candidate who jumped in this late even have a path to victory? Perhaps. The early primaries and caucuses are richer in symbolic significance than they are in delegates, especially with the new rules prohibiting winner-take-all allotment of delegates in the early states. And even with such a late jump on fundraising and organization-building, a candidate who was able to rack up a string of impressive victories in the middle- and later-term primaries could theoretically build up a big enough head of steam to take the convention by storm while making use of the Internet and earned (read: free) media coverage to play catch-up on money and organization.

The late-entrant scenario is still a dark horse at best, but even the fact that it’s within the realm of possibility underscores the reason Democrats are quietly cheering last night’s outcome: the GOP is still, at best, a party that’s looking for a standard-bearer — or, more dangerously for their 2012 prospects, a disunited collection of smaller groups of voters still pushing their own.

Governor to Support Overdue Government Reforms

The Indiana Chamber and MySmartGov have been champions of sensible government reform in Indiana, and have supported suggestions from the Kernan-Shepard Report that would eliminate townships, among other excesses. The Evansville Courier & Press now reports Governor Mitch Daniels will firmly put his weight behind these measures in the 2012 session:

Gov. Mitch Daniels will make one last push for local government reforms – this time, a select and scaled-back set of them – during the final legislative session of his administration, he announced Friday.

Daniels unveiled his legislative agenda for the Indiana General Assembly’s 10-week 2012 session, which starts Jan. 4, during a speech at the Kiwanis Club of Indianapolis.

He said he will lobby for structural changes at both the township and county levels, as well a crackdown on conflicts of interest among municipal workers who also sit on the elected bodies that set the budgets for their employers.

It’s another try at implementing more of the recommendations offered in 2007 by a blue-ribbon panel chaired by former Gov. Joe Kernan and Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard.

This year, as freshman Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City takes over the chairmanship of the House Government and Regulatory Reform Committee, Daniels said he believes the conditions are right for more progress than he has made in the past.

“We’re going to try to approach it in a little simpler way,” Daniels said.

He said he hopes four local government changes that have stalled out in previous sessions can gain more traction this year. Those four are:

- Allowing counties to switch their executive structure from three-member groups of commissioners to a single county commissioner.

- Abolishing three-member township advisory boards that oversee township trustees’ budgets and bumping their fiscal oversight duties up to county councils.

- Eliminating nepotism – that is, the ability for local elected officials to hire their relatives to do the area’s work.

- Restricting “conflicts of interest,” or situations where those who are paid by local government, such as police, firefighters, park employees and more, also serve on the councils that set their budgets.

“I think if we could get action on two, three, four fronts like those, this would be good. Those are some important reforms. I’ve always believed that we wouldn’t do this in one or two big gulps; it would have to be an incremental process, and this would get the process moving forward,” he said.

Less Than 350 Days Until the Next Big Show

We like to say here at the Indiana Chamber that we have the biggest and best annual business celebration. Sure I’m a little biased, but I think that was proven to be the case again Thursday night.

Don’t take our word for it. The 1,400-plus attendees certainly seemed to enjoy themselves. Governor Mitch Daniels helped get the ball rolling and the night closed with keynote speaker Terry Bradshaw putting on an excellent show.

There were the three major awards, of course. Congratulations to Business Leader of the Year Jean Wojtowicz, Government Leaders Brian Bosma and David Long, and Community of the Year Kokomo. Check out their video profiles and stay tuned for photos, a video recap of the event and more in the coming days and weeks.

It’s about much more than just the awards. It’s business, community and political leaders coming together and celebrating what makes Indiana great.

It’s only 11 months and 12 days until the 23rd Annual Awards Dinner, which will feature Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein on the 40th anniversary of Watergate and the lessons learned that apply to today’s political world. Join us November 1, 2012 and see for yourself what a great event this is.

Economic Impacts of Where Our Energy Comes From

Having diverse sources of energy is a good thing. But the implications go far beyond the very important Indiana advantage of being a low-cost power producer.

The "other" implications will be the focus on an October 25 half-day summit titled Secure Energy: Our jobs, Our Economy, Our Future. In the words of the organizers, this event "will highlight the critical role North American petroleum and natural gas, particularly secure sources such as Canadian oil, play in America’s and Indiana’s economy."

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is the keynote speaker. Gary Doer, Canadian ambassador to the United States, will also be a presenter. Panel discussion will feature state and national experts.

The Indiana Chamber is a sponsor of the event at the Westin Hotel in downtown Indianapolis. Pre-registration is required. Full details available online.