Political Analysts: Don’t Expect GOP Presidential Draft

Political thinkers say even if Mitch Daniels or Chris Christie were drafted to run for president, their campaigns would be hampered by a lack of time and money.

Mitch Daniels

Photo: Indiana Public Media News

Mitch Daniels says talks with his family led him not to run for president this year.

It has not happened in 60 years, but Republicans fretful about their presidential field are speculating about a dark horse candidate emerging from a deadlocked convention. Political oddsmakers, though, say don‘t bet on it.

“The nature of modern politics — the importance of money and organization – are such that I think it would be very, very difficult to put it together,” says IUPUI political science professor Brian Vargus, who has helped run campaigns for both parties.

Vargus notes the candidates Republicans have wistfully talked about drafting into the race, from Governor Mitch Daniels to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, have publicly and vehemently declared they‘re not running – and that may scare away the interest needed to run a tough campaign against an incumbent president.

“People who like Daniels‘ book, or have looked at Jeb Bush and think, ‘Well, gee, why doesn‘t he finally get in?’ — they realize in all those cases that the odds are very long that they would come out of the convention with a very strong candidate,” Vargus says.

Christie has not only ruled out a run but has endorsed former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. A draft used to mean exactly that, running or nominating a candidate without his consent. Democrats drafted Adlai Stevenson into the first of his presidential runs, and there were short-lived attempts in later races to draft Henry Cabot Lodge and Gerald Ford. But today, “draft” has morphed into persuading a candidate to jump in on his own.

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