Gov. Daniels makes pitch to C-PAC

Can a Republican win the nomination for president by campaigning down the middle?

Gov. Mitch Daniels at C-PAC

Gov. Mitch Daniels’ speech before C-PAC Friday night is raising eyebrows and questions.

Can a Republican win the nomination for president by campaigning down the middle? Normally Republicans lean to the right in the primary fight and Democrats to the left. That leaves the middle as the battle ground in the general election.

However, the Indiana governor didn’t use his opportunity before C-PAC to pander. There was some controversy over the group even giving Daniels the mike at all. Some said they would boycott because of his recommended truce on social issues.

Daniels did not back away, telling his conservative audience that “purity in martyrdom is for suicide bombers.” Then he added, “I for one have no interest in standing in the wreckage of our Republic saying I told you so or you should’ve done it my way.” Instead he preached about the need to broaden the party’s base. Earlier in the week in the Indiana Statehouse he had praised President Ronald Reagan for doing that very thing. Now he is asking his party to remember where it came from.

Could it be that the governor realizes the religious right in his party has already lined up behind Sarah Palin or does he believe his party can’t defeat an incumbent with that narrow of a focus? Palin is preaching exclusion – us against them; a campaign of division.

Daniels, remembering Reagan, is calling for a party of addition. He quoted John Adams’ diary entry while en route to Philadelphia when he wrote “great things are wanted to be done.” That may turn into his rallying cry but watching all this unfold I can’t help but think of another entry Adams made when writing to his wife Abigail back in Massachusetts. He penned “but it is my destiny to dig treasures with my own fingers.”

Now it will be interesting to see who is willing to get their hands dirty along with him.