That Mitch Daniels endorsed Mitt Romney doesn’t mean he’ll offer nothing but unqualified praise of the former Massachusetts governor. Today, the Indiana governor delivered some tough love to Romney, whose campaign Daniels described as too negative.
The governor, who’s often cited as a potential Republican running mate for Romney, reportedly told the newspaper that “political victories that follow ‘slash-and-burn’ campaigns seldom lead to great accomplishments,” referring to the already-bitter war underway between Romney and the president’s re-election campaign.
“Spend the precious time and dollars explaining what’s at stake and a constructive program to make life better,” Daniels said. “And as I say, look at everything through the lens of folks who have yet to achieve.”
The writer of the piece, Matthew Tully, wrote that Daniels took a pause, then continued with disappointment: “Romney doesn’t talk that way.”
He added: “You don’t change one thing about the policies you advocate or your principles,’ he said, noting instead that candidates should simply make clear how their policies would lift up those who are struggling.”
Daniels implied that he thinks Romney is campaigning to win — but not necessarily to govern. The kind of campaign style Daniels outlines is ideal, but the Indiana governor forgets that Romney has to win to be able to govern. Plus, Romney is up against the Campaigner-in-Chief who won in 2008 precisely by campaigning to win and who in this election year has governed shallowly, in a way to try to help his campaign.
Romney has been running for president for more than four years and his policy proposals are fairly well-developed. In every interview, he works in substantive policy information. Take his interview with National Review Online yesterday: He discussed his plans to expand energy development in this country, along with his plans to clean up a corrupt bureaucratic culture and administer the executive branch more efficiently than the president. From a horserace perspective, though, the most memorable lines in the interview were jabs at Barack Obama’s lavish vacation habits and dog-eating. Romney said he’d have “no time for elaborate vacations” as president. Later, he said, “I don’t recall that I’ve eaten anything truly bizarre.” True, interviewer Jim Geraghty baited him into both sound bites — but, nevertheless, those kind of savvy witticisms stick on the campaign trail.
Indeed, it’s been the most pleasant surprise of all to see that Mitt Romney and his team will flex their rapid-response muscles again and again until the president backs off of petty attacks. If the president continues the attacks, he’ll continue the counterattacks. The strategy is such to pique voters’ interest in the man from Massachusetts, who, until now, has come off as a little, well, dull. Interest piqued, they’ll pay attention to his policy proposals — and, for the most part, they’ll like what they read.