Keeping his distance

KEEPING HIS DISTANCE…. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) is in pretty good shape for his re-election fight next week, but he’s apparently concluded that being seen alongside Sarah Palin could undermine his chances.

Gov. Mitch Daniels today began his final campaign swing in his now-famous RV, heading to southern Indiana. One place Daniels won’t include on his tour is the Jeffersonville stage where Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president, will be campaigning Wednesday evening.

Daniels said he plans to talk to folks in the parking lot, but can’t fit into his schedule a joint appearance with Palin.

“I’m going by (the Palin rally.) I’ve got another event scheduled at the same time, but it is close by, so I’m going to go by and spend as long as I can there and hang out in the parking lot and spend some time with the folks standing in line or patiently waiting to get in,” Daniels said. “I’m not speaking at the rally, no.”

So, let me get this straight. Palin will be in Jeffersonville; Daniels will be in Jeffersonville. Palin will be inside a venue talking to voters; Daniels will be outside the same venue talking to voters. Daniels could go inside and be seen with his party’s vice presidential nominee, but he doesn’t want to. As Josh Marshall put it, “I guess heading in from the parking lot to the stage would have just been too much for Daniels’ schedule to handle.”

This, in a state that hasn’t supported a Democratic presidential ticket in 44 years, and where Bush won four years ago by nearly 21 points.

McCain/Palin is still favored in Indiana, but Obama/Biden has narrowed the gap significantly. Apparently, Daniels doesn’t want to take any chances.

Of course, if McCain/Palin loses, I can’t wait to see Daniels and Palin exchanging dirty looks at next year’s gathering of the National Governors Association.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.