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Daniels Takes Time To Consider A Presidential Run


It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Linda Wertheimer.


The first debate of the 2012 Republican presidential primary season takes place tonight in Greenville, South Carolina. Fox News is broadcasting this debate, which will include only five of the potential candidates - Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain and Gary Johnson. Some of the big name potential candidates will not be there. You have no Mitt Romney. You have no Newt Gingrich, no Michele Bachmann.

WERTHEIMER: The Republican field has been slow to form. Mike Huckabee, who came in second last time, says he'll decide whether to run by the end of the summer. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who's expected to make an announcement one way or another very soon, was in Washington yesterday. NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson has this report.

MARA LIASSON: Daniels was in town to give a speech at the American Enterprise Institute about his record on education reform in Indiana. But the audience was packed with political reporters hoping for a smidgen of news about Daniels' intentions. None was forthcoming. But he did offer his opinion that it's not too late to get started if he does want to get started.

G: For whatever reason, it appears not to be. And I think it's a happy surprise.

LIASSON: Other potential candidates are already traipsing through Iowa and South Carolina and New Hampshire, testing the waters and hiring operatives. But Daniels seems to believe there will be plenty of time and talent left to hire for a late-starting presidential bid.

G: But for whatever reason, it's not. I consider that from the standpoint of the public a blessing. We're not - I guess unless you're a political professional or running a bed and breakfast in New Hampshire...


G: ...it's a darn good thing that we'll have a nomination campaign measured in months and not years.

LIASSON: Daniels has always said he'd make his decision after the Indiana legislative session ended. And it did, on Friday. He seemed in no hurry to join other Republicans in a critique of the Obama administration. Instead, he praised the president and his education secretary, Arnie Duncan, for their education reform efforts. And he praised the administration in general for the successful effort to kill Osama bin Laden.

G: Well done, well handled. And let's just hope it presages more such successes.

LIASSON: But he wasn't willing or prepared to go much further when asked to elaborate on comments he'd made earlier in the week that bin Laden's death did not end the war against terror.

G: What did I say?


U: You said the struggle's not over. And it won't be for long. Struggle against al-Qaida.

G: Well, I don't think that's all that deep a thought, really.


G: I don't know how much deeper I can go for you.

LIASSON: Mara Liasson, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Mara Liasson is a national political correspondent for NPR. Her reports can be heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazine programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Liasson provides extensive coverage of politics and policy from Washington, DC — focusing on the White House and Congress — and also reports on political trends beyond the Beltway.