Last night, at the Indiana GOP’s spring fundraiser, Mitch Daniel’s unveiled his secret weapon in his campaign for President. Cheri Daniels was the keynote speaker before a boisterous crowd of 1,100 that greeted Mitch with pre-made signs and screams of “Run, Mitch, Run”. This was the first major political speech ever given by the Indiana First Lady, although Daniels has been governor going on eight years. The first words she said were, “This isn’t so bad after all.” That was music to Daniel’s supporter ears, as she is generally acknowledged as the major sticking point in his decision to run.
Cheri Daniel’s speech complete with pictures of her milking a cow and driving a dump truck was a humorous look at her years as First Lady. If you’re from New York or California, you may not get it. But in Iowa and South Carolina, the Republican base will love her. She and Mitch have a deal that she doesn’t have to go anywhere that she doesn’t want to. But she loves State Fairs. And the Iowa State Fair is August 11 and 12–the two days immediately preceding the Ames Straw Poll on August 13. Expect photos of Cheri Daniels walking away with the blue ribbon in the cow milking contest in the Dairy Cow Barn to be all over the front pages of Iowa newspapers as people are driving into Ames. With the support that he is already lining up from current and former governors, Daniels could quickly become the prohibitive front-runner before summer’s end.
The Daniels will have to deal with the issue of Mrs. Daniel’s leaving Mitch and her daughters, moving to California, remarrying, then divorcing, and finally returning to Mitch and the girls All this happened in a 4 year time span between 1993 and 1997. Cheri Daniels should be prepared to make a statement that is short, simple, and avoids the possibly lurid details. No one should really care, since she’s not the candidate. And, if Democrats try to make this an issue, both Daniels and his wife will get a great deal of sympathy from female voters. Laura Bush, who also had a personal problem involving a traffic accident which resulted in the death of a former boyfriend when she was in high school, has already called Cheri Daniels to discuss campaigning. With the field rapidly taking shape, expect Mitch Daniels to announce his candidacy before Memorial Day.