Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) and his surrogates have increasingly lashed out against former President Donald Trump and Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) as the Hoosier State Senate Republican primary has reached a fever pitch.
Daniels, a former two-term governor and former Purdue University president, is poised to enter the contentious Senate Republican primary to replace the outgoing Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN), who is running for governor in 2024. As he appears ready to enter the race, Daniels resides at a newly purchased home in Naples, Florida, where he has been reportedly golfing and fishing.
In a nutshell, the primary represents the continuing battle between the more traditional, Bush-era Republicans and the more pro-Trump, populist-leaning candidates such as Banks. Daniels served as the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under former President George W. Bush, and was cited as a potential presidential candidate in 2012 and 2016.
Donald Trump Jr., Donald Trump’s son, noted that Daniels has agreed with the argument that only “MAGA Republicans” are “subverting democracy.”
Trump Jr. said that Daniels would become another Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) if he were elected to Congress’s upper chamber:
The establishment is trying to recruit weak RINO Mitch Daniels to run for US Senate in Indiana. The same Mitch Daniels who agreed with Joe Biden that millions of MAGA Republicans are supposedly a danger to the country & trying to “subvert democracy.” He would be Mitt Romney 2.0
The establishment is trying to recruit weak RINO Mitch Daniels to run for US Senate in Indiana. The same Mitch Daniels who agreed with Joe Biden that millions of MAGA Republicans are supposedly a danger to the country & trying to "subvert democracy."
He would be Mitt Romney 2.0 pic.twitter.com/mCWNO2LEvG
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) January 13, 2023
Daniels’ criticism of Trump goes beyond rhetoric on “subverting democracy”; the former Indiana governor has been a frequent critic of Trump’s America First policies.
In 2017 Daniels criticized Trump’s move to ban some refugees from entering the country, which has been mischaracterized by the establishment media as a “Muslim ban.”
“The president’s order related to immigration is a bad idea, poorly implemented, and I hope that he will promptly revoke and rethink it,” Daniels said at the time in a statement released Purdue University.
Breitbart News explained:
But there is no “Muslim ban,” and there never was. What Democrats called a “Muslim ban” was an executive order issued on January 27, 2017, that barred tourism and immigration from seven countries previously identified by the Obama-Biden administration as being particularly vulnerable to terrorism, partly because their internal record-keeping was substandard. These seven nations — Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen — happened to be Muslim-majority countries, but there was no blanket ban on Muslims from other Middle Eastern countries or large Muslim countries like Indonesia.
“That of course is out of our hands, but what is within our control is the chance to conduct ourselves here, in this community, with civility and mutual support and genuine affection for one another that celebrates our diversity in all its forms,” Daniels said in a virtue-signaling statement in the aftermath of the January 6 protests and riots.
Daniels also enflamed controversy in 2011 when he proposed that potential Republican presidential candidates should declare a “truce” on social issues ahead of the next election as a “tactical suggestion.”
Daniels contended that discussing social issues such as abortion and gay marriage would alienate voters. He told then-radio host Laura Ingraham that he wanted to “mute” discussion of controversial social issues while the country recovered from the 2008 financial crisis. Other potential GOP candidates, such as former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), said you “can’t call a truce on moral issues.”
Reports have also suggested that social conservatives were “boxed out” during Daniels’ eight-year tenure as governor.
Outside of Daniels’ conservative credentials, or lack thereof, Mark Lubbers, Daniels’ closest adviser and confidante, has attacked the “Trump crime family” in recent ramblings.
“A majority of Americans are ready to embrace conservative policy … but loser grifters like Club for Growth keep making conservatism ugly and unlikable. At some point genuine conservatives will have to go to war with these bully goons to save us from baby-Trumps like Jim Banks,” Lubbers said.
Daniels has declined to comment on attacks against him from the Trump-aligned side of the GOP; however, it appears that he endorses Lubbers’ attacks against Banks and Trump.
“From what I’m told others are doing a good job of that,” Daniels said.
Banks has been strongly backed by conservatives and former President Trump.
Club for Growth PAC President David McIntosh endorsed Banks, saying that he is a “proven conservative” and a “champion” for liberty.
The Club also released an ad reminding Hoosiers about Daniels’ record of “being a big government, tax and spend Republican”: