Mitch Daniels’s Wife Can Change the Course of History

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Cheri, milking a cow. Photo: Courtesy of Indiana governor Mitch Daniels

Fact: The outcome of the 2012 presidential election will have an enormous effect on world events and alter the course of history.
Fact: Mitch Daniels, the highly respected Indiana governor who stands out in the primary field for being decidedly uncrazy, could beat President Obama. "Top Democrats," according to one report, believe he'd be Obama's second-toughest opponent. (Daniels himself thinks the odds of unseating Obama would be "quite good")
Fact: The GOP establishment is desperate for Daniels to get into the race, but Daniels has yet to decide whether to run.
Fact: The approval of his wife Cheri will be a major factor in his decision.

And this is why all eyes are on Cheri Daniels today, as she makes the keynote speech at the Indiana GOP's springtime fund-raising dinner. Is she going to say something like, "I officially give my husband permission to run for president"? No.


The governor insists his wife has no plans to break news. "She's going to talk about the life of the first lady, which she's never made much of a display of," he told reporters Monday.

But Daniels gets why everyone is getting so excited.


“Cheri hasn’t even attended one of these, let alone appeared at one of them,” he said in a recent interview. He added, “Tea leaves started getting read — and I get it.”

Indeed, observers hope that something she says might hint at whether the ultimate reluctant political wife has acquiesced to what, to her, would seem to be a major headache. As The Wall Street Journal reports, she didn't even want any part of her husband's statewide campaigns:


The Indiana first lady's distaste for politics is legendary. Her husband crisscrossed the state for months in an RV to win his two elections for governor, first in 2004 and then in 2008. His wife stayed away.

"She hated the idea," Mr. Daniels told The Wall Street Journal earlier this year. She agreed to let him run, he said, on the condition that she never would have to appear at campaign events. "And I can say I have stuck to that [promise] to this day," he said.

A presidential campaign would be much longer and more intense, and furthermore, would eventually focus attention on the Daniels's mysterious marriage history. Even so, the Times says that if Mitch Daniels runs, Indiana Republicans believe that Cheri "will not dramatically change the distant role she has played in his previous campaigns." Which is a shame. Because she sounds like an awesome time.


The first lady is no shrinking violet. She is a constant presence at both weeks of the annual Indiana State Fair. She won two blue ribbons at the 2007 fair, one for cow milking and the other for long-distance watermelon-seed spitting. (She spit one 15 feet, one inch.)

Every month she takes on a new "chore" she then describes as part of a radio show she hosts, "First Fridays with the First Lady." Some highlights: dump truck driving, bartending, clog dancing, grooming a horse.

Watermelon-seed spitting! Beat that, Callista Gingrich.

Am I Running? Ask My Wife [WSJ]
Weighing a White House Bid as Opening a Door to Past Pain [NYT]
Is Cheri Daniels ready to take the plunge? [Indy Star]