John Thune and Mitch Daniels are GOP fresh faces
Thune, a former congressman and a soft-spoken charmer with Gary Cooper’s good looks, just completed his first term in the Senate. Thune won instant popularity among Republicans when he established himself as a giant-killer, knocking off sitting Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle in 2004. He grew up in Murdo, S.D., population 612, the son of a World War II aviator and war hero. He has strong appeal to evangelicals as a graduate of a California Bible college. He likes to focus on small companies and local business; he is clearly conservative but pragmatic. And stylistically, he is congenial, earnest and gracious. He can talk farming and football as easily as he can taxes and the deficit. As a sitting senator, he’ll have to defend some difficult votes–like supporting the TARP fund.
Indiana Gov. Mitch “The Blade” Daniels, one of the rare sitting politicians in this country who has actually shown the fortitude to cut budgets. He trimmed $250 million from the Indiana budget, saved $190 million by renegotiating government contracts and cut the state’s rate of spending growth in half. Daniels served as chief of staff to Senator Richard Lugar, was a senior advisor to President Ronald Reagan, was President George W. Bush’s budget director and has been elected twice governor, receiving more votes than anyone who has ever run for office in Indiana. He won 72 of 92 counties (Obama won 15), got 24 percent of the Democrat vote, 20 percent of African Americans, and won every age demographic. He inherited a state hundreds of millions in debt and since taking office has balanced every budget. And he’s done it while enacting the largest tax cut in state history, ethics and telecom reform, and a fully-funded tax- and debt-free transportation plan.
Will the Republican candidate be one of the well knowns or someone new and fresh? These two fresh faces look to be contenders. Joe Scarborough, Haley Barbour, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, General David Petraeus, and Governor Chris Christie are other names I’ve heard may be in contention. The field looks well populated! Which ones will satisfy the narrow tests of Tea Partiers, Evangelicals and still appeal to Moderates?