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Daniels Finds Time Is on His Side

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) said Wednesday he’s pleased that it’s not too late for him to consider a campaign for president, although he declined to say much else about a potential bid for the White House in 2012.

“I really thought it might become too late, somewhere along the line, and that would have been that,” Daniels said. “But for whatever reason, it appears not to be, and I think it’s a happy surprise.”

Daniels was speaking to more than 200 guests Wednesday at the American Enterprise Institute, where he frequently cracked self-deprecating jokes during a policy-laden address on education, complete with a PowerPoint presentation from the Republican governor known among political insiders for his wonky talks.

Daniels said he refused to make any decisions about a White House bid until after the state legislative session ended last week, but he didn’t give the crowd at the conservative think tank any updates about his intentions — just that it’s not too late for him to jump in the race if wants to.

“People far more sage than I about our political process and presidential process are very surprised that on May the 4th, it’s not already far too late,” Daniels said. “I consider that, from the standpoint of the public, a blessing. Unless you’re a political professional or running a bed and breakfast in New Hampshire, it’s a darn good thing.”

Daniels also hailed President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan for their education policy, an unorthodox tactic for someone who could be running against that same administration several months from now.

“Most of what I talked about so far and much of what I will say is strongly supported by the Obama administration,” he said. “I salute the president, Secretary Duncan. They have had the courage, in many cases, to irritate some of their allies.”

He touted Indiana’s accomplishments in education, and he hailed it for directing more of its budget to K-12 education than any other state. Daniels was also frank about some of the backlash he had received for his education initiatives, showing the audience photos from his detractors depicting him as Darth Vader from “Star Wars” and Adolf Hitler.

“I’ve been told that Darth Vader is not that bad a guy as compared to me,” he quipped.

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