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Does Haley Barbour's opt out mean Mitch Daniels will opt in?

Mitch Daniels
Gov Mitch Daniels, R-Ind. speaks during the Ronald Reagan Banquet at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington on Friday, Feb. 11, 2011. AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Many in the Washington political world are talking about Haley Barbour, but not necessarily about why he decided not to run for president. Most are asking, what does this mean for Mitch Daniels?

Daniels, the governor of Indiana and former budget director for Georgw W. Bush, is a close friend of Barbour's and is seen as one of the Republican Party's leading voices on debt and deficits. He is a Harley Davidson riding politician who some think can be the Republican's best match for President Obama.

Politico reported in December that the two governors are real friends, not just the usual political acquaintances. In his piece, Jonathan Martin said that Daniels told him that he'd be less inclined to run if Barbour was a candidate.

For his part, Barbour told Martin that Daniels should run regardless. "I told him that, even if I run, you ought to run," Barbour told Politico. "The public needs more good choices."

But what does Barbour not running really mean for Daniels?

Not much says CBS News and Slate Magazine's John Dickerson. "They are friends and that means if Daniels does run he doesn't have to run against his buddy but that's the only obstacle removed," he said.

But many eyes will be on Indianapolis as political observers look to see if Daniels has the "absolute fire in the belly" to run for president, that his friend Mississippi Governor Barbour did not.

With debate approaching, GOP picture remains blurry

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