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Getting to Yes for Mitch and Cheri Daniels

By Erin McPike - May 13, 2011

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According to those familiar with the details from more than a decade ago, Mrs. Daniels' decision to end her first marriage and leave Indiana with another woman's husband hurt several other people, some of them children. The cross-country move blindsided the doctor's then-spouse, sources said, breaking up that marriage and that family.

It's long in the past now, and those involved in this drama say they have moved on, but the intensely personal nature of that episode -- and the questions that will inevitably be asked about it if Mitch Daniels decides to run -- clearly have left him and his family torn.

He told the college students that running for president was like bungee jumping, adding, "This is one where you have to strap a bunch of people, your family and others, along with you." He called it a savage process.

That concern is -- now according to Daniels himself, on the record -- the last thing standing in his way.

To the group of students, he explained: "I think I've crossed the hurdle of believing that we can make a very credible case, win or lose. . . . In other words, I think I've spent enough time thinking about, reading about and listening to other people about the big questions."

He's already pivoting to making his case: He said he's watched a lot of people get ready to run for president, "but they couldn't answer the ‘why' question. Or if they did, it was a first-person answer about them." He went onto say that's not the case for him and threw in, "I think I know the 'why.' "

So do those egging him on: As he took the stage about an hour later in a fancy ballroom, the guests stood and waved green signs that read, "Run Mitch Run."

Asked in an interview with RealClearPolitics how he would be able to say to all of those trying to push him into the race that he wouldn't do it, he paused before answering, looking closely at his questioner.

"That's an interesting question," he finally replied. "I think anybody who presumes to run for president has a lot of explaining to do. I don't know why somebody who doesn't has much."

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Erin McPike is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at emcpike@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @ErinMcPike.

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