Mitch Daniels,  President 2012

President 2012: How’s That Mitch Daniels Candidacy Looking?

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels speaks at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J. More than a year out from Election Day, all sorts of Republicans, including Daniels, are making a point of keeping themselves in the national spotlight, stoking speculation that they’re positioning themselves as potential running mates for the eventual GOP presidential nominee

Phil Klein looks at a Daniels what if?

Many conservatives have been desperate for an alternative to Mitt Romney, but he still finds himself ahead in the first four primary states, because no single rival has been able to consolidate opposition to him or convince the establishment wing of the GOP that they’d be plausible. (BTW, I’m using “establishment,” roughly speaking, as a way of describing those who place more emphasis on electability than ideology.)

Daniels, no doubt, had his share of detractors, given his social issues “truce” comments, uncertainty about whether he’d be open to raising taxes, and skepticism over his foreign policy views among hawks. But his governing record in Indiana was well to the right of Mitt Romney’s in Massachusetts. If Romney can overcome past support for abortion, gun control, the McCain-Kennedy immigration approach, and government-run health care — among other liberal positions — Daniels’ deviations from conservatism would have looked mild by comparison. In addition, his command of policy details and strong executive record would have allowed him to compete with Romney for establishment support. It’s hard to imagine Daniels having a deer in the headlights moment in a debate.

Mitch Daniels would be the nominee, if he had run.

Will Mitt Romney choose him as a Vice Presidential candidate?

Only if he wants to win.

And, if Romney loses, then Daniels will be th epresumptive front-runner for 2016.