Mona Charen

A former chief of the Office of Management and Budget (under George W. Bush), Daniels is known for his incisive mind and mastery of detail. In addition to government service (he also worked as an aide to Sen. Richard Lugar and as Ronald Reagan's political director), Daniels has headed a conservative think tank, the Hudson Institute, and served as president of Eli Lilly's North American operations.

This is not a slick, packaged politician. Daniels writes his own speeches -- and they are thoughtful, substantive exercises -- and even pens the content of his political ads. His demeanor is friendly and his posture is forward-looking. He has never run a negative ad. He is a conservative, but not of the grievance variety.

In style, Daniels is low-key and witty without being arrogant. In his first run for governor, he traveled the state on his motorcycle or in his motor home, spending the night as the guest of ordinary Hoosiers. His self-deprecating humor made his travels into a popular show -- "MitchTV" -- still available on YouTube. He treats every voter (supporter or not) with respect. And he's not above enjoying himself at a state fair (his wife won the watermelon seed spitting contest).

He's been called the "anti-Obama," but the contrast is not in style. Both men are poised, intelligent, and well spoken. The most glaring contrast (aside from philosophy) is Daniels' wealth of experience and record of governing success.

Daniels has offered the view that a Republican candidate in 2012 must present a credible plan for solving the spending, deficit, and debt crisis the country is in and campaign to "govern, not just to win."

He'd rather someone else do it, which is understandable. He promised Hoosiers he would serve out his term, and feels duty bound to abide by his promise. But Daniels has a combination of traits -- broad experience, wisdom, skill, and likeability -- that are rarer than rare. Surely Hoosiers would release him from his promise if he asked -- if we all asked.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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