Mitch Daniels, the cautious conservative populist governor of Indiana, is taking the first steps to a likely 2012 Republican presidential primary bid, according to associates. An E-mail provided to Whispers by a very close Daniels confidant says that the successful two-term governor is seriously contemplating a run as he considers his options for 2012.

The E-mail reports that while Daniels, a former Reagan-era White House political adviser and George W. Bush’s first budget director, never considered running for the highest office in the land. But after reforming Indianapolis and winning reelection in 2008 when President Obama took the state, he has received non-stop encouragement to run from supporters who like his no-nonsense style of governing. It’s hit a peak since he helped to orchestrate his state Republican Party’s 2010 midterm election rout in Indiana. With nonstop candidate recruitment and fund raising, he helped the party build a 37-13 super majority in the state Senate 60-40 advantage in the Indiana House.