Amid voter dissatisfaction, movement to draft Mitch Daniels into GOP race gains ground

Backers of Mitch Daniels are hoping to use his high-profile response to President Obama's State of the Union address to spur interest in their campaign to draft the Indiana governor to make a late bid for the presidency.

Matt McKillip and Kate Havard are spearheading the "Run Mitch Run" campaign, which officially began Saturday after it became clear that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had won the South Carolina primary. The online petition has gathered more than 14,000 signatures as of noon Wednesday.

McKillip and Havard, a pair of twenty-somethings who ran the Students for Daniels movement in early 2011, said they revitalized their efforts convince the governor to run. After months of speculation he might enter the race, Daniels announced in May that he would not run.

"Mitch Daniels is the perfect foil to President Obama," McKillip said, "if we don't get Mitch on the ticket, we're probably going to lose the election, which has serious implications on our future."

McKillip is not the only one who does not have confidence in the current crop of Republicans. In a Jan. 9 CBS News poll, 58 percent of Republican voters said they want more presidential candidates in the race, and only 37 percent of Republican voters said they are satisfied with the current list.

In his May 2011 announcement, Daniels said he thought "very deeply" about a run, but ultimately decided against it, citing "the interests and wishes of my family, is the most important consideration of all."

Havard cited Daniels' electability as the main reason why the campaign has garnered such mass appeal.

"He has a great, strong conservative leadership background and a broad based moderate appeal," Havard said. "There really is a divided electorate, and we think Daniels could lead them."

For his part, Daniels has made it clear he is not running.

"I'm sure he appreciates the support he's been getting, but he made his decision back in May," spokesman Jake Oakman told CBS News Political Hotsheet.

In September, when asked about potentially accepting an offer to be the vice presidential candidate, Daniels said, "I always say that one day the phone rings and something interesting that seems useful is on the other end...you don't rule anything out."

That phone call is what McKillip said the campaign is working toward.

"We want to let the phone ring one more time, in the hopes of him answering the call and entering this race," McKillip said. "We can't force him into it, but we want to show him the mass support is there."

  • Chad Sinclair

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