Should 'America's best governor' run for president? 

Run Mitch, run! That seems to be the message about the Indiana Governor coming from certain influential conservative circles, anyway. (For what it's worth, I wrote a National Review cover story about Mitch Daniels and his governing achievements last year that raised the specter of a presidential run.) Fred Barnes wrote an item about Daniels' possible presidential bid last week and today we have Ross Douthat. The New York Times columnist and co-author of Grand New Party argues that Daniels is "America's best governor," and should be a contender:

But murmur the name Mitch Daniels, and everyone perks up a bit. Would he win? Maybe not. But he’d be the best president of any of them ...

“I’ve never seen a president of the United States when I look in the mirror,” Daniels remarked last week, after officially inching the door ajar for 2012. You can’t blame him: At 5’7”, the Indiana governor wouldn’t be the tallest man to occupy the White House, and he’d be the baldest president since Dwight D. Eisenhower. If Romney looks like central casting’s idea of a chief executive, Daniels resembles the character actor who plays the director of the Office of Management and Budget — a title that he held, as it happens, during George W. Bush’s first term.

Since then, though, he’s become America’s best governor. In a just world, Daniels’s record would make him the Tea Party movement’s favorite politician. During the fat years of the mid-2000s, while most governors went on spending sprees, he was trimming Indiana’s payroll, slowing the state government’s growth, and turning a $800 million deficit into a consistent surplus. Now that times are hard, his fiscal rigor is paying off: the state’s projected budget shortfall for 2011, as a percentage of the budget, is the third-lowest in the country.

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Mark Hemingway

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