For GOP, Daniels is out, Pawlenty is in

GOP leaders had urged Mitch Daniels to run for president. GOP leaders had urged Mitch Daniels to run for president. (Jose Luis Magana/ Associated Press)
New York Times / May 23, 2011

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Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana said yesterday that he would not become a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, telling supporters in an e-mail that concerns from his family were the overriding factor in deciding to stay out of the race.

“In the end, I was able to resolve every competing consideration but one,’’ Daniels wrote. “The interests and wishes of my family is the most important consideration of all. If I have disappointed you, I will always be sorry.’’

His announcement answers one of the most highly anticipated questions about the 2012 Republican campaign, but introduces new uncertainty into the race. He is the latest in a string of prominent Republicans to decline a presidential bid, leaving the field without a clear front-runner less than eight months before the first voting could begin.

Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor; Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi; and Donald Trump, the businessman and reality TV star, have announced in recent weeks that they would not seek the nomination. Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska, has yet to declare her intentions.

For weeks, Daniels inched closer to entering the race, declaring recently at the state party dinner: “I’m not saying I won’t do it.’’ Several party leaders urged him to run, saying that his experience on fiscal issues would strengthen the ticket.

Daniels said the concerns of his wife and his four daughters were the main factors in his determination. His wife, Cheri, has made no secret of her distaste for politics. She did not campaign for her husband during his two races for governor. This is her second marriage to Daniels. In 1993, she left her husband and four daughters and moved to California to marry another man. She remarried Daniels in 1997.

Daniels, a former budget director in the White House under President George W. Bush, had secured the fund-raising commitments and political support from a large contingent of alumni from the Bush network. In recent days, aides said, several contributors said they needed an answer soon.

Minnesotan confirms bid during introductory video
On the eve of his planned campaign announcement, Tim Pawlenty released an Internet video yesterday declaring that he is running for president because he — unlike President Obama — has the courage to face America’s challenges.

In another slickly produced video that has become a hallmark of his campaign, Pawlenty, the former Republican governor of Minnesota, confirmed that he would officially begin his bid for his party’s nomination in Iowa today.

“That’s where I am going to begin a campaign that tells the American people the truth,’’ Pawlenty says in the two-minute video, mincing no words about his intentions.

“I’m Tim Pawlenty, and I’m running for president of the United States.’’

There has been little doubt in recent months that Pawlenty would take this step. Of all the potential Republican candidates, Pawlenty has been the least coy, assembling a campaign staff, traveling to states that hold early contests, and commenting quickly on events of the day.

But for all his efforts, Pawlenty still faces a major challenge: He remains one of the least known faces in the Republican field, having almost no national profile on which to base a campaign. That he recognizes that challenge was evident in the ad he released last night. Like his other videos, it seeks to introduce Pawlenty to viewers.

“I grew up in a blue-collar town,’’ he says in the video. “My dad worked as a truck driver. My mom died when I was a teenager, and I was the first in our family to graduate from college. As governor of Minnesota, I moved our Democratic state in a conservative direction.’’