Some thoughts on two of my favorite Republicans,
1. I'm late getting to it, but I've read some commentary about a potential Paul Ryan run for President. I admire Paul Ryan (not to say I agree with every detail of his every policy proposal), but I don't think he would make for the best Republican presidential candidate. As regular commenter Art Deco pointed out in the threads, Ryan's has little experience of either executive responsibility or the private sector. He is primarily a congressional aid turned member of Congress. This kind of experience is a substantive weakness, but it is also a political weakness. The obvious retort is that Obama had no experience as a political executive (along with a thin legislative record) and he was elected President. That is true, but circumstances differ. As a social democratic-leaning politician running in an unambiguously favorable environment, his lack of a record was actually a strength. He had never raised taxes as a governor or voted for middle-class tax increases and large defense cuts as a Senator. His lack of a record allowed him to promise everything to everybody without anyone able to point to an Obama record that contradicted his promises. To think of a similar situation, imagine if the Republicans were running against a President Obama with his job approval ratings in the low 30s and the Republican platform was huge tax cuts for everybody + a balanced budget and all to be financed from the savings that would come from tort reform.
The Republicans in general, and Ryan in particular, are in almost the opposite situation. They aren't offering easy and cheap answers (well, other than Donald Trump.) They are proposing large spending cuts and major health policy reforms. Ryan is an excellent spokesman for those policies. He is informed, articulate and unflappable and doing a great job of spreading the word. The problem is that Ryan doesn't have much record implementing similar policies as an executive. Ryan's policies sound like a good idea when Ryan explains them, but they are ideas. Without an executive record, it is easier to paint Ryan the presidential candidate as a well meaning but ideologically intoxicated dreamer trying to peddle a bunch of think tank fantasies that will never work in the real world. Also the implications of the tax policies in his Roadmap would, by itself, be huge and possibly fatal weakness in an otherwise close presidential election. If anybody has a convincing rebuttal to the study in the link I would love to see it.
2. Which brings us to Mitch Daniels. His record as governor would put him in a stronger position to run on Ryan-type reforms. Daniels has cut spending while maintaining or even improving public services. He has instituted consumer-driven health care reforms that have saved the government money, increased workers' disposable income and maintained access to high quality health care. A record can make for a pretty good rebuttal.
Erin McPike thinks that Daniels has played the media beautifully so far. Maybe. He has gotten favorable profiles from National Review and the Weekly Standard. He gets favorable mentions from those portions of the liberal-leaning media that are not explicitly partisan. But those aren't the whole media. In the Republican presidential primaries, the populist conservative media is more important than National Review or the New York Times. But candidate quality is more important than the support of (or even opposition from) the populist conservative media. McCain got nominated despite sharp criticism from Limbaugh and National Review's support of Romney. Daniels is a much better ideological fit for the Republican primaries than was McCain. He has a better record as governor than Romney. I doubt he will win over everyone in the populist conservative media, but I could see him doing just fine on Hannity and Ingraham.