Daniels decision likely a couple weeks away, says Indiana Republican

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter

It’s been ten days of non-stop speculation since the Indiana legislative session ended, and its beginning to feel like Gov. Mitch Daniels is never going to announce whether or not he’s running for president. Daniels said he would make a decision in the weeks following the end of the legislative session.

On Thursday, Daniels’ notoriously politics shy wife Cheri will keynote a dinner for the Indiana Republican Party, and it has been suggested that that would be the venue for Daniels’ big moment. But people familiar with the Hoosier governor say that it’s likely to be a bit more of a wait.

“I don’t want to oversell it by any means,” said one Indiana Republican familiar with the situation of the dinner Thursday. “I don’t expect an announcement of any kind to come that night (if it does, it would be a surprise).”

A more reasonable time to look for a decision, the Republican suggested, would be closer to Memorial Day.

Much of what has sparked speculation is Daniels’ wife’s planned keynote address. She has stayed out of the political spotlight for most of his career as governor. She did not join him on the campaign trail, and she has openly voiced her hesitance about Daniels running for president.

But someone familiar with the Daniels administration shrugged off the rumors.

“There are many people (mostly not close to the governor or his family) who think that this will be the occasion for a big announcement about the governor’s plans or at very least about the first lady’s willingness to go along with a possible presidential bid by the governor. I am very skeptical about this scenario,” said the source.

Announcing in that venue, the source speculated, “Just doesn’t seem like his style.”

Indiana Republican Party spokesperson Pete Seat said that the choice of Cheri Daniels as the keynote speaker was not intended to be politically loaded. “It was someone we thought Hoosier Republicans would love to hear from,” he said. “We thought this would be a great opportunity for her to address her fellow Republicans.”

Regardless of Daniels’ real intentions on Thursday, the uncertainty is keeping the hype of his potential candidacy alive, something that might not be unintentional.

“The important thing to remember about him is he is perhaps the most politically savvy of any of the potential candidates, and he knows exactly what kind of action will create what kind of buzz,” said a former Bush administration colleague. “He doesn’t seem to do random, or make unintended steps in any direction. So the question is whether they scheduled that to send signals or as a way to help them generate feedback.”

And if nothing else, the person familiar with the Daniels administration said, “It is helping the State Party sell tickets to the event!!!”