Last held public office: Governor of Indiana, 2005-present
Known as a wonky deficit hawk, the former budget director for President George W. Bush capped state property taxes, dramatically reduced spending and transformed a $200 million budget deficit into a $1.3 billion surplus as governor of Indiana, all while maintaining high approval ratings. He is an ardent proponent of raising the Social Security retirement age and cutting other entitlement programs. And that kind of fiscal focus is exactly what many Republicans feel is necessary to dig the federal government out of debt.
Daniels' signature issue landed him in hot water last June, when he told the Weekly Standard that the next President would have to "call a truce" on social issues like abortion and gay marriage in favor of getting the nation's deficits under control. Prominent social conservatives were upset, and although Daniels clarified his position by saying, "I picked the word truce because no one has to change their point of view," he would still struggle with that constituency should he run.
Daniels insists that he would be a force to be reckoned with if he entered the nomination fight. While he has a loyal fan base in certain circles and is cozy with the party establishment, he hasn't made any real moves toward a run. One possible factor: his wife is said to be wary of campaign life.
Representative quote: "Doing the people's business while living within the people's means is our fundamental duty in public service."