Looks like Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels won't be Mitt Romney's Goldilocks surrogate after all. In a long interview with the Indiananapolis Star released online Thursday, Daniels joined the ranks of Republicans wishing their presidential nominee was a little different.
His advice for the former Massachusetts governor?
"Go ahead and have the confidence in the voters to explain the fix we're in and then tell them with some specificity what we can do to get out of it in a way that's good for everybody," he said. "Explain those things from the standpoint of the young and poor -- those who haven't achieved the dream yet."
Unfortunately, the national campaigns have veered toward the nasty and the silly this year. Romney survived the primary season thanks in part to super PACs and campaign spending that crushed his long line of rivals with negative commercials. Both parties seem to believe this election will be won by the one who does the best job of destroying the other. With that in mind it's worth remembering that whether you like him or not, Daniels ran two successful campaigns for governor that were heavy on positive messages and policy ideas. He said political victories that follow "slash-and-burn" campaigns seldom lead to great accomplishments.
"You have to campaign to govern, not just to win," he said. ". . . Spend the precious time and dollars explaining what's at stake and a constructive program to make life better. And as I say, look at everything through the lens of folks who have yet to achieve."
After a pause, Daniels added with disappointment: "Romney doesn't talk that way."
"You don't change one thing about the policies you advocate or your principles," he said, noting instead that candidates should simply make clear how their policies would lift up those who are struggling. For instance, he said, at fundraisers Romney's message shouldn't be about how his policies affect the well-heeled people listening in the audience, but rather those who can't afford a ticket to get in.
"It's not complicated," Daniels said. "But for some reason sometimes candidates just miss that."