Mitch Daniels, the two-term Republican governor of Indiana is, as far as I can recall, the only potential President I've had dinner with a couple of times. (Note to future opposition researchers: I wasn't me back then, so don't bother.)
Nice guy. Didn't instantly come across as Presidential Timber. David Brooks writes in "Run, Mitch, Run:"
In manner, Daniels is not classically presidential. Some say he is short (though others do not regard 5 feet 7 inches as freakishly diminutive). He does not dominate every room he enters. But he is not without political skills, in an offbeat sort of way. If you have some time, Google “Mitch TV” and you can watch a few episodes of the reality show his campaign produced during his gubernatorial races.
Seemed like a bright corporate executive type, which I guess he was at the time. Andrew Ferguson writes: "He favors pressed sport shirts and sharply creased Dockers, public-golf-course casual," and that seems about how I recall him: like the kind of marketing research executive I used to play golf with. An impressive guy, but it's interesting to hat met somebody before they become a really big deal.
Interesting facts about Mitch Daniels:
- He's had two marriages and one wife. He and his wife, by whom he has four daughters, divorced in 1993 and remarried in 1997. In 1930s, remarriages were the favorite happy endings to screwball comedies, but they usually strike me as evidence of interesting internal passions not wholly consistent with his image of chipper blandness.
- He's Hillbilly/Arab-American. His mother was born Daisy Wilkes, while his paternal grandparents were born in Syria.
- Drugs form a continuing theme in his life. His father was a pharmaceutical salesman, he was arrested at Princeton in 1971 for LSD, and then he was, between government gigs, an Eli Lilly executive. When I mentioned to my wife that he was being mentioned as a Presidential candidate, she recalled how interested he'd been in her tale of one of her relatives' medical problem and how enthusiastically he had recommended a Lilly drug then in trial. (It turned out to be a bust, with some nasty side effects, but she appreciated his concern.)