“This is the G.O.P. quandary. The man who would be the party’s strongest candidate for the presidency is seriously thinking about not running. The country could use a serious, competent manager, which Governor Daniels has been, and still he’s thinking about not running. The historic moment calls for someone who can restrain debt while still helping government efficiently perform its duties. Daniels has spent his whole career preparing for this kind of moment, and still he’s thinking about not running.

“The country also needs a substantive debate about the role of government. That’s exactly what an Obama-Daniels contest would provide. Yet because Daniels is a normal person who doesn’t have an insatiable desire for higher office, he’s thinking about not running…

“He couldn’t match Obama in grace and elegance, but he could on substance. They could have a great and clarifying debate: What exactly are the paramount problems facing the country? What is government’s role in solving them?

“I hope Daniels gives us a chance to be part of that.”

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GOV. MITCH DANIELS: I think that David Brooks is right most of the time, but even his good judgment deserts him now and then. And maybe this was one of those occasions that — there’s nobody whose regard I would rather have, honestly, than his. And I was gratified, of course.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, you’ve said you are considering it. What more do you need to know before — to make a decision to go?

GOV. MITCH DANIELS: It’s a long subject, but there are a lot of concerns that are very, very personal and family-oriented.

And I really do want to see our party step up to its responsibilities, as the loyal opposition, on the biggest questions of the day. And I think the single biggest question is the debt, which threatens to ruin the economy — not just the economy, but the position of this nation in the world.

And I would like to help do that, but there are ways to help other than throw yourself off that cliff.

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“The class act of the Republican congressional delegation (House and Senate alike) is clearly the bold, articulate, personable Congressman Ryan. The most well-liked and respected Republican governor is Chris Christie. Both are dynamite in one-on-one confrontations. Both would shred Obama in a debate. Christie doesn’t look the part, but as Noemie Emery has noted, there are advantages even to that. Ryan, a true believer in the founding ideals, is presidential timber. The question is whether either man will seize the opportunity at the perfect, needful time to reclaim those ideals — or whether they’ll only step forward once we’ve already passed the tipping point.

“Too many Republicans fail to grasp the urgency of the moment. In addition to Ryan and Christie, Mike Pence, a telegenic, presidential-looking conservative, who would also appeal to both Tea Partiers and more establishment types, should reverse his decision and opt back into the race. Any Republican who thinks he or she might be the best, most electable, candidate should run…

“Given the extraordinary decision faced by Americans in 2012, it is the profoundest understatement that it’s time for Republicans to put the varsity on the field. The finest candidates in the Republican Party owe it to their country, and to the ideals in which they believe, to enter this race with a determination to win. And the rest of us who love our country need to do all that we can to draft them into service. Through Facebook pages — here are Ryan’s and Christie’s — word of mouth, and civic interaction of all sorts, we must act now.”

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