Daniels announced his decision Sunday in a midnight message to supporters.
“I was able to resolve every competing consideration but one,” he wrote. “The interests and wishes of my family, is the most important consideration of all. If I have disappointed you, I will always be sorry.”
Daniels further elaborated on his decision to the Indianapolis Star, saying “On matters affecting us all, our family constitution gives a veto to the women’s caucus, and there is no override provision. Simply put, I find myself caught between two duties. I love my country; I love my family more.”
Daniels’s wife Cheri was often cited as having final say on her husband’s candidacy, but she previously told reporters her four daughters and three sons-in-law all had a voice in her husband’s decision as well.
Daniels, who was the director of the Office and Management and Budget under President George W. Bush, was a favorite candidate of the Republican establishment. Politico speculates that his departure will lead the GOP to scramble to find new candidates for president.
The pressure on a handful of Republicans who’ve insisted they won’t consider running but would be potentially strong alternatives to Mitt Romney will now significantly intensify, but the ultimate beneficiaries of Daniels’s absence may be two candidates already on course to run: Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman.
At the moment, though, the Indiana governor’s exit illustrates the degree to which the GOP race is being shaped by who’s not running.
Consider the list of would-be candidates who’ve passed on a campaign in the last four months: Mike Pence, John Thune, Haley Barbour, Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump and now Daniels.
Add Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan and Rick Perry – Republicans with star power who’ve said flatly they won’t run – and it translates into a GOP establishment deeply worried that the flawed options they’re left with won’t be any match for an incumbent president who seemingly won’t face a primary but is likely to shatter campaign fundraising records.
The Indiana Democratic Party expressed similar sentiments in a statement.
We’ve disagreed with Mitch Daniels myriad times, but there’s no doubt that his decision not to enter this race is a loss for Republicans. Daniels would have brought a serious tone to a GOP field that’s thus far been characterized by silliness and distraction.
Daniels is in his final term as Governor of Indiana. This week, he’ll visit Washington to headline an event for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.