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Cracker Squire

THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Location: Douglas, Coffee Co., The Other Georgia, United States

Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels - The Governor Who Cut His State Down to Size

From The Wall Street Journal:

Pundits say he's too short, at 5-foot-7, and lacks the requisite pizzazz to be elected president.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels believes he faces a taller challenge as he ponders a White House run: Could voters warm to his message that the country is doomed unless it slashes its debt and radically revamps the popular Social Security and Medicare programs?

In any other year, a campaign platform that gloomy would render a politician toxic. Today, with concerns over the nation's fiscal health on the rise, the Indiana Republican's wonkish bravado is making some think he is a good fit for the moment.

If the time is indeed right for Mr. Daniels's get-tough message, the angry budget standoffs in states such as Wisconsin, Ohio and New Jersey are also shining a new light on his credentials as a messenger. Mr. Daniels rescinded collective-bargaining rights for state employees six years ago—long before Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker caused a firestorm by putting the same issue on the table.

Mr. Daniels also cut spending, trimmed the state work force to its smallest in decades, and turned a yawning deficit into a surplus, with only scattered outbursts of popular anger along the way.

He has emerged from all this with high marks from voters, and a profile that sets him apart from the other Republicans mulling a possible 2012 run.

The 61-year-old former adviser to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush says he is still pondering whether "to jump off the highest cliff in politics" and make a run for the White House. He is a dark horse, tied for seventh among possible Republican candidates in a recent Gallup poll. If others "step out boldly" with plans to revamp the entitlement programs, he says, "I will probably be for them."

So far, he says, none has.

Harping on deficits and changes to entitlements, Mr. Daniels concedes, isn't usually a winning strategy. "It's hard to name anyone who has won on that theme," he says.

The Pew Research Center found this month that even at a time of rising concern over deficit spending, only 12% of Americans, and just a fifth of Republicans, favored cutting Social Security or Medicare.

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