Is Mitch Daniels Waiting for His Wife's Verdict on a Presidential Run?

Posted: May 10, 2011 1:52 PM
Maybe so, writes Jon Ward at the Huffington Post:

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels wants to run for president and is not in the process of convincing himself to do it, a close adviser said. The last hurdle remaining is ongoing discussions between him and his wife, Cheri Daniels, over whether she is ready to face questions about their past.

I think he would like to do it,” the Daniels adviser told The Huffington Post by phone. “I actually think he’d have a decent chance of getting the nomination.”

Why might Mrs. Daniels balk at the prospect of her husband running for president?  Perhaps because their rocky marital history will likely go under the microscope if he's a national candidate.  The Weekly Standard reported some of the broad strokes last June:

“Right from the start she told me, ‘I don’t do the whole politician’s spouse thing,” Daniels said. “She’s not apolitical. She’s not unpolitical. She’s antipolitical. I told her I would never ask her to do anything she didn’t want to do. And I haven’t. And she hasn’t.”

When the oppo researchers and the national press do get around to opening up Daniels’ life for inspection, they will find a few embarrassments. One is his arrest in 1970 for marijuana possession when he was a student at Princeton. He spent two nights in jail and paid a$350 fine, and later wrote about the bust in a column for the Star in 1989.  More painfully, he and his wife Cheri divorced in 1994. She moved to California, leaving Daniels with the four daughters, aged 8 to14, and married a doctor. She divorced again and moved back to Indiana. She and Mitch remarried in 1997. 

Cheri has never spoken about this publicly, and from what I can tell it’s been mentioned in print only twice. Daniels only comment was to the Indianapolis Star in 2004: “If you like happy endings, you’ll love our story.

If a Daniels candidacy materializes, it's possible that some voters may be somewhat put off by the couple's unusual relationship trajectory. It's also entirely understandable why a family would prefer its dirty laundry and painful memories to remain a mostly private matter.  That being said, I suspect a sizable majority of voters will either shrug off the Daniels' past marital issues, or would positively relate to their relational turbulence.  Previous few Americans have experienced storybook marriages themselves, so a couple that faced and overcame a very rough patch could be extremely relatable to voters across the political spectrum.

UPDATE - Daniels is again highlighting the importance of his family's opinion about a prospective presidential bid:

MT @: Mitch Daniels, 10 minutes ago, on family: "This is not a mountain you jump off yourself. You take others w/ you, & that matters to me."

UPDATE II - Daniels, generally reluctant to engage in bravado, apparently feels fairly confident he could beat Obama in a general election:

The Republican governor said Tuesday he was confident about his chances of beating Obama, but that's not factoring into his deliberations on a White House run.

"I think the chances would actually be quite good," Daniels said, speaking to reporters after giving public service awards to state employees. "The quality and the number of people who have said they'd like to be associated is really quite awesome to me."