INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, a fiscal conservative seen as a possible formidable candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, said on Saturday he has not yet decided whether to run.
Some Republicans have been encouraging Daniels, who served as budget director under former President George W. Bush, to join a field of Republican White House hopefuls that thus far has generated little enthusiasm.
Daniels had said he would not make a decision on running until after the state legislative session ended. That session ended on Friday but he was coy on the subject on Saturday.
“You can’t announce a decision you haven’t made,” Daniels told reporters after signing an education bill that expands charter school creation and provides vouchers for eligible private school students.
He said he will announce a decision in the next few weeks.
“I’ve been listening to all sorts of people and hearing from all sorts of people, and every one of them has an opinion that I value,” Daniels said.
President Barack Obama, a Democrat, has announced that he is running for re-election next year. Republicans consider Obama vulnerable, but the candidates who have taken steps toward entering the race all have their own weaknesses.
Daniels has generated enthusiasm among conservatives by warning about the U.S. fiscal situation, which he compares to the “red menace” the United States faced during the Cold War.
He had alarmed some conservatives by calling for a “truce” on social issues like gay marriage, but said this week he will sign a bill passed by the state legislature that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and cut funding to the family planning group Planned Parenthood of Indiana.
This week’s decision by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour not to run for president next year could help Daniels in his decision. Barbour and Daniels are close friends and were not eager to compete against each other.
“It occurred to me this morning when I was making my breakfast, if I switch from oatmeal to corn flakes, someone would say it was a move to the Iowa caucus. It’s just a weird time,” Daniels said, alluding the corn-producing state’s key early contest in the road to the presidential nomination.
Editing by Greg McCune and Will Dunham