With the Republican presidential nomination all but sewn up for Mitt Romney, leading politicians this week from the GOP ranks -- including a potential running mate -- jumped on the band wagon.
Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana, who had been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate and who ranks as one of the top contenders to end up as Romneys running mate, announced during an appearance on Fox News on Wednesday that he is backing Romney.
Mitt Romney has earned our party's nomination and now deserves the support of every American still committed to government that serves the people rather than rules over them, Daniels said. The ruinous debts and anti-enterprise policies of today threaten more than our near-term economy; unaddressed soon, they will end the promise of upward mobility that our nation has always offered to its young and its poor. And they will end the U.S. leadership which has promoted peace and progress around the world for so many decades.
Daniels, who has drawn fire from some social conservatives for his calls for a truce on social issues during the economic downturn, did not exactly rule out a possible vice presidential bid. Asked about the possibility of winding up on the ticket, Daniels dismissed it but said he would help Romney however he could.
Daniels also praised Romney in his formal endorsement on Wednesday. Mitt Romney has proven that he understands what is at stake and is prepared to summon Americans to the changes that will restore the American Dream and our national greatness, Daniels said before seemingly leaving the door open to a vice presidential possibility. I'll do whatever I'm asked to help him.
Romney, for his part, offered lavish praise for the Indiana governor.
Governor Daniels leadership and service in Indiana should be an example to public officials across the country, Romney said. Governor Daniels shares my background in business, and he has used the principles of the private sector in government. Indiana has been served well by his leadership based on fiscal discipline, smaller government, and a friendly environment for job creators. I am honored to have his support and look forward to working with him to fix our economy and get our country on the right track.
While Indiana has only produced one president -- Benjamin Harrison -- five vice presidents have come from the Hoosier State, the most recent one being Dan Quayle who served under George H.W. Bush. While Indiana has been, in recent decades, the most reliable state in the Great Lakes region for Republican presidential candidates, Barack Obama carried it over John McCain in the 2008 election.
With Romney almost certain to be the Republican nominee, the national media are starting to handicap the battle to be his running mate and the Romney camp has also started a search for their candidates running mate. On Wednesday, Jonathan Karl from ABC News listed Daniels as a second-tier candidate, behind U.S. Sen. Rob Portman from the crucial state of Ohio and two Floridians -- former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.
Daniels was not the only Republican governor to back Romney this week. With Rick Santorum, a favorite son of the Keystone State, out of the race, Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania announced on Tuesday that he is backing Romney. Pennsylvania is one of five states in the Northeast that will hold primaries on Tuesday. Gov. Matt Mead of Wyoming also announced this week that he is backing Romney.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.