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Why Mitch Daniels Said No

Why Mitch Daniels Said No

By Erin McPike - May 22, 2011

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels received encouragement to pursue the presidency from all over the country, from tea party activists to Republican Party elites. But after months of deliberation, Daniels could not overcome the barrier that he warned supporters about from the start: family concerns stood in the way.

Daniels' unusual marital history was apparently the issue. He's only been married to one woman -- but twice, and the gap in that marriage in the 1990s was the sore spot. Cheri Daniels left Mitch when he was in private life in 1994 and moved to California with a doctor. The Danielses would later remarry, but the pain it caused the people involved, including their four daughters, was too much to bear.

A whisper campaign already making the rounds among political activists revealed how tough some of the scrutiny was going to be: What kind of first lady would leave her children at home for her husband to raise? Why did Mitch Daniels take her back?

Many Washington GOP strategists have said for months that that one issue would be too much for Daniels. In the end, it was -- according to Daniels' himself.

In a statement released to supporters late Saturday night, he said: "The counsel and encouragement I received from important citizens like you caused me to think very deeply about becoming a national candidate. In the end, I was able to resolve every competing consideration but one, but that, the interests and wishes of my family, is the most important consideration of all."

Daniels intimated as recently as last week that he was ready to run. The Indiana GOP staged a large event in Indianapolis 10 days ago that was in many ways a sales pitch to Cheri Daniels; with the well-choreographed event, the governor's supporters tried desperately to convince her that she could be comfortable in front of the national media.

But she told reporters afterward that the prospect of her marriage being discussed and dissected in the media was giving her pause.

She had reason to be nervous. RealClearPolitics was approached by the ex-wife of the doctor with whom Mrs. Daniels fled to California. The other couple was married at the time, and the woman said in a phone interview that the move "blindsided" her.

While she said she's over the breakup of her marriage, in an email she characterized Cheri Daniels as "vengeful."

The doctor's ex-wife continued: "What I will say is they remarried for political reasons. She didn't care what she did to her children or mine in 1994. And she doesn't care about what she does now. Look up 'narcissist.' I really question her character, and her motives."

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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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