Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has told supporters that he is not running for president, citing the wishes of his family.
Politico reports that in a midnight email to his supporters, Daniels wrote:
"The counsel and encouragement I received from important citizens like you caused me to think very deeply about becoming a national candidate. In the end, I was able to resolve every competing consideration but one, but that, the interests and wishes of my family, is the most important consideration of all. If I have disappointed you, I will always be sorry…If you feel that this was a non-courageous or unpatriotic decision, I understand and will not attempt to persuade you otherwise. I only hope that you will accept my sincerity in the judgment I reached."
"Many thanks for your help and input during this period of reflection. Please stay in touch if you see ways in which an obscure Midwestern governor might make a constructive contribution to the rebuilding of our economy and our Republic.”
While Daniels had seemed reluctant to run all along, in recent weeks there was a growing sense that he might be persuaded to do so. But in the end, he decided against it, joining the list of prominent Republicans who have said, “thanks, but no thanks” to a presidential bid.
Daniels exit from the race removes somebody who could have been a potentially strong challenger to President Obama, given his solid record as governor, mastery of policy, and his focus on the importance of addressing the debt crisis, which he dubbed the “Red Menace.”
His departure has major implications for the rest of the field, especially because many prominent Republican donors were waiting for him to decide whether or not to run.
In one sense, without Daniels in the race, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would seem to be the closest thing to a front-runner. Yet his long-record of flip flops on a number of major policy issues as well as his championing of the Massachusetts health care legislation that was the forerunner of ObamaCare makes him incredibly vulnerable. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty could now emerge as the anti-Romney candidate, yet whatever his growth potential may be, he’s still polling in the low single digits. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman may be more likely to run now, but he was perceived as too moderate of a Republican to win the nomination back in early 2009 – and that was before he joined the Obama administration.
The rest of the field includes a number of niche candidates – former Godfather’s pizza CEO Herman Cain, Rep. Ron Paul, former Sen. Rick Santorum, and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson – and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose first week as a candidate couldn’t have been more disastrous.
With Daniels out, one wonders if another big name might reconsider jumping into the ring.