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Possible 2012 Candidate Daniels Says He Will Decide Within Weeks

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels said he would announce within weeks whether he will seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

“I know I owe a lot of people an answer,” he said on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend.

Daniels, 62, described his family as apprehensive about the prospect of a national campaign. Their concerns, he said, are “a very, very important factor” in his decision.

“I may be up for bungee-jumping, but this is one where you have to strap on some other people,” he said.

The two-term governor and former budget director for President George W. Bush said he would be ready to debate President Barack Obama on foreign policy, if he were to run.

“I would spend a lot of time very promptly and be ready in plenty of time” to discuss that topic, he said. “There’s no need for me to shoot my mouth off until I’m pretty confident I know what I think.”

When asked in a May 3 Bloomberg View event with journalists if he was ready to debate Obama on foreign policy, Daniels answered “probably not.”

In a February speech in Washington at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, cast the government’s growing debt as a national security threat. “We face an enemy lethal to freedom,” Daniels said. “It is the new ‘Red Menace,’ this time consisting of ink.”

‘Mistaken Idea’

In the Bloomberg television interview, Daniels said tax-rate increases as one way to decrease the debt “are a mistaken idea.” What is needed in revising the tax code, he said, are “lower and flatter rates.”

National polls of Republican-leaning voters have shown Daniels typically receiving three or fewer percentage points of support.

None of the potential Republican candidates break the 20-percent mark of support, according to a poll released May 4 by Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.

Daniels offered few clues about his political future in May 4 remarks in Washington, saying there is still time for candidates to join the Republican race.

“I really thought it might become too late somewhere along the line,” he said in a policy address at the American Enterprise Institute, a research organization that favors smaller government, “but for whatever reason it appears not to be, and I think it’s a happy surprise.”

Daniels praised the slow pace of the Republican nomination contest. “It’s a darn good thing that we’ll have nomination campaign measured in months not years,” he said.

Other Prospects

Two former Republican governors, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania have filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to raise money for potential runs. Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who is considering a third run for the White House, has also announced an exploratory committee.

Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who stepped down as U.S. ambassador to China at the end of April, moved toward entering the race May 3 when he formed a political action committee, which lets him raise money to hire aides and travel the country as he mulls a bid.

Other potential candidates include former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia.

The lack of a clear Republican front-runner has encouraged others, including Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a Tea Party favorite, and real estate developer Donald Trump to position themselves for potential runs.

Trump Comment

Trump in a May 1 interview said that “in my mind” he has decided to launch a presidential run, yet won’t make an official announcement until his reality television show, “Celebrity Apprentice,” wraps up its season later this month.

Daniels said on the “Political Capital” program that “I don’t know Mr. Trump. I’m pretty sure that we disagree about a number of things.”

Among the most frequently mentioned potential candidates, Pawlenty, Santorum and Paul participated in the campaign season’s first official debate, held last night in South Carolina. The debate’s two other participants were former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and Herman Cain, the former chairman of Godfather’s Pizza.

As the Republican race gears up, Obama has opened a 2012 re-election campaign headquarters in Chicago and raised millions of dollars last month at events in Illinois, California and New York.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lisa Lerer in Washington at llerer@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva in Washington at msilva34@bloomberg.net.

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