Mitch Daniels: 2012 opportunity is a “happy surprise”


Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels continues to give few clues about his interest in the 2012 presidential race (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

“The idea of my becoming one of the aspirants is something I wasn’t prepared to think about while we were working on” education reform in the state, Daniels said. “I really thought that by April 29....it might become too late somewhere along the line but for whatever reason it appears not to be.”

Daniels’ comments came in a question and answer session following a speech on reforming Indiana’s education system at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. this morning.

Caught as he left the event by the New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny and a handful of other reporters, Daniels offered a slightly expanded riff on his timing.

“We won’t take long,” Daniels said. “I said we were going to do our duty, finish this session and then we’d turn our attention to it. And now we are.”

The speech itself was largely a recitation — with an accompanying slideshow, no less! — of the manner in which he shepherded the education reform bill through the state legislature and to passage late last week.

Daniels, who made his bones in Washington and Indiana as a policy wonk, lived up to that reputation with a relatively straight-forward presentation occasionally peppered with a trademark dry wit.

Asked to expand on his past statement on the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, Daniels demurred saying that his original statement wasn’t terribly insightful and perhaps not worth building on — a comment that brought a roar from the crowd.

He did eventually add that bin Laden’s death was a “very significant achievement” that will be “tremendously powerful from a symbolic standpoint”.

Daniels was not pressed beyond his comments about the “happy surprise” that the opportunity to run still existed this late in the presidential primary process.

As for what factors Daniels is weighing as he makes up his mind, the Indiana governor said his family was his first priority; “family considerations are always the most important thing in anything we’re weighing,” he said.

(For more on Daniels make sure to check out our look at his political inner circle.)

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.

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