Despite his relatively low public profile, Mr. Daniels has been a successful, reform-minded, conservative governor. He took office in 2005 with a huge deficit and state spending growing at an unsustainable 6 percent rate.

But Mr. Daniels is not one to kick the can down the road. He immediately went to work finding savings wherever he could. Cost-cutting and businesslike practices cured the state’s operational deficit, but Indiana, like virtually every other state, also faced a huge shortfall in capital infrastructure funds. Mr. Daniels tackled that with the largest public-private partnership in U.S. history, a lease of the Indiana Toll Road, which brought the state nearly $4 billion for investment in transportation plus billions more to modernize the Toll Road itself…

Mr. Daniels also reformed health care in Indiana, including organizing at no public expense a program that connected 250,000 low-income people with free or heavily discounted drug programs. His Healthy Indiana Plan is on its way to providing 130,000 more families with low-cost health insurance in a consumerist, Health Savings Account-like format…

On the national level, Mr. Daniels believes the time is right for Republicans to make a fresh appeal to young voters (he won the youth vote by wide margins in both his races). “Our deficit levels threaten the well-being of the next generation,” he said ominously. “We are stealing from our sons and daughters.”