INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) said no one should ever turn down an offer for the vice presidential nomination, which is why he hopes no one ever asks him to join the national ticket.
"The one thing I don’t think you should say is, if asked to serve the country, 'No'. I don’t think anybody should say that," Daniels said in a wide-ranging interview with Roll Call. “But other than that, [I] don’t want to, don’t intend to, hope not to, don’t expect to, and I think there are better choices.”
Days after Mitt Romney became the GOP's presumptive nominee for president, several of the most-mentioned vice presidential contenders told media outlets that they're not interested in the gig — statements widely interpreted by insiders as political deflection. Daniels came close to shutting the door himself last weekend, telling "Fox News Sunday" that, if asked to be Romney's running mate, he'd urge the White House hopeful to reconsider.
But on Wednesday afternoon, during an interview with Roll Call in his expansive office at the state Capitol, Daniels explained his own ambitions in more detail.
Sitting with one leg crossed over his knee, Daniels mused about his post-gubernatorial life, including his unplanned hopes to move back to the private sector. He argues he's not the politically ambitious type, and he hope his path will serve as a model so this country won't "become a nation of career politicians."
“I wanted to create one example when someone came and went from public life, was not on the make every couple minute for the next campaign or the next office," he said. "I want people to say, 'Well, all right, he wasn’t really angling for Senate, he wasn’t angling for president, he wasn’t really running for anything. He was just doing the job, as he said.'”
Daniels said he assumed national Republicans were not vetting him for the national ticket but cautioned, “I don’t think anybody knows" whether he or she is part of the selection process yet.
Daniels recalled he last spoke with Romney a couple of weeks ago when the former Massachusetts governor called to thank him for his endorsement. He says he doesn't know Romney that well, but he's found "every encounter I've ever had with him was pleasant."
Perhaps the most memorable token of their relationship leans against the governor's mantel in his otherwise uncluttered office: a Louisville Slugger.
During the first two years of Daniels' gubernatorial career, Romney was scheduled to speak at a conference in Louisville, Ky. Emergency matters kept Romney in Massachusetts, however, so he called Daniels to request he speak at the confab in his stead.
“He said, ‘Would you go down and pinch hit for me?'" Daniels recalled, holding the unused bat. "I forgot I had this, but he sent me a bat and said thank you so much for pinch hitting. Thoughtful guy.”
Romney signed the bat, which displays the Boston Red Sox's logo.