Rick Perry’s chances of landing the Republican nomination for the presidency have not been badly damaged by his unpopular stances on immigration and Social Security, according to fellow GOP Gov. Mitch Daniels.
“People are much too quick to rule people in or out based on one statement or one performance,” Indiana Gov. Daniels told Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview. “He’s been a fine governor. He is certainly a principled person.”
Perry’s characterization of Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme” is accurate, said Daniels, who added that many politicians on both sides of the aisle have used the same description. But now that the Texas governor has made his point, Perry must act “not only to identify the problem, but to talk about how he’d solve it,” Daniels said.
Daniels may be right. The latest poll by CNN/ ORC International shows
Perry leads the next-closest challenger, Mitt Romney, 28 percent to 21 percent among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents.
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Daniels said that, despite mounting speculation, he does not believe Chris Christie will enter the race for the White House.
“We’re friends, we’re kindred spirits,” he said of the New Jersey governor.
“I believe he is going to remain and grow as an important national figure for a long time and I really hope we will see him run for president someday but when he says it is not likely to be this time, I take him at his word.”
But if Christie changes his mind, Daniels, who himself toyed with the idea of running, said he would “instantly become a factor and might well win the nomination.”
And if Christie did get the nomination, Daniels believes he would go all the way and beat President Barack Obama in 2012.
“Any of a number of the current field could beat the president based on the manifest failure of his policies. I hope I’m wrong about this, but I do not see this economy, particularly with his policies in place, improving very much between now and Election Day.”
But Daniels said he wants the GOP candidates to draw a bolder contrast between what they would do in office and what Obama has done.
“The important distinction is that we ought to level with the American people about the difficulties we are facing, about their nature and about the specific steps that’ll get us out of this.
“There may be a temptation simply to run against the president as a default option,” he added. “I hope that won’t happen because we should campaign to govern not merely to win. What matters is not winning an election but what is done, the actions that we are or are not able to take afterwards.”
Daniels dismissed the idea of a third party candidate such as Donald Trump entering the race, saying such candidates tend not to be viable. “If they don’t stumble at the beginning, they wither at the end because people don’t want to waste their votes.”
Any strong challenge from an independent would be “a sad thing” for people who want to see Obama out of power, he added. “If that movement divides in two, then it doesn’t have a chance of success and what we’ll get is a continuation of the ruinous path we’re on now.”
Daniels, who has been in the Governor’s Residence in Indianapolis since 2005, has a new book out called “Keeping the Republic
.” In the book, which he subtitles, “Saving America by Trusting Americans,” he warns that history has taught that all national greatness is temporary. But he said if the United States tackles its debt crisis, it has many years of superiority ahead.
“We’ll have to make some big decisions and big changes — it’ll take a change in national leadership — but I believe that Americans are fully capable of running their own lives and of coming together . . . to support some pretty bold new directions so we can get out of the debt corner we have painted ourselves into and get our economy back to a growth rate that reestablishes the American dream and promise,” he said.
Daniels said the joint House and Senate supercommittee’s task of finding more than $1 trillion in savings is only a start on what needs to be done to cut the federal budget.
“It's a big number but compared to the size of the problem we have, it is not big at all. They need to deliver a real plan without any smoke and mirrors in it, that’s every bit of $1.2 trillion — I hope bigger. After they have, we’ll have to start talking about the next plan.”
“Let’s assume they get $1.2 trillion and it’s real. That would be a nice step, but in the interim, since that committee was first discussed, we have learned that the American economy is not growing at 4 percent, like the president told us it would, but 1 percent, and that 3 percent difference is worth more than two times $1.2.
“So we would have taken one step forward and meanwhile two steps backward. It just shows how urgent the need to put the private economy and its growth ahead of everything else.
And he warned the fact that nearly half of the government’s debt is now owned by foreigners, compared to less than one-fifth in 1990, could hasten national decline.
“This is just arithmetic,” Daniels said. “History is littered with failed societies who borrowed themselves into a corner. They got past a point where … the interest they were paying on the debts they had piled up ate up so much money that they couldn’t succeed economically.
“We don’t want to go there, but we are on a path to go there if we don’t make some big changes soon.”
Editor’s note: To get a copy of Gov. Mitch Daniels’ new book, “Keeping the Republic: Saving America by Trusting Americans,” at a good price — Go Here Now.
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