INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels said Tuesday he plans to continue promoting fiscal conservatism in the 2012 presidential debate, but from the sidelines now that he's decided not to run himself.
Daniels, in his first public appearance since announcing last weekend that he wouldn't seek the GOP nomination, said he'll try to keep the focus on America's financial future through speaking engagements and promoting the book he is writing. He urged voters to focus on the spending issues that prompted him to consider a run, and not on his decision.
"What I decided means very little. What happens to me means nothing," Daniels said. "What America decides and what happens to the nation in the next few years means everything."
Daniels said he doesn't know if he would endorse a contender in the 2012 race. "We'll see," he said. "I'm not sure who'd care."
Daniels said there are good candidates in the race, and they should have faith that Americans would accept tough decisions about spending if given the facts about the country's fiscal situation.
Daniels told reporters after an Indiana Education Roundtable meeting that speculation that he could be a candidate for vice president is "far-fetched." He also said he hasn't given any thought to a cabinet job if Republicans win back the White House or what he'll do after his term as governor ends in January 2013.
"I expect to find some way to be useful," said Daniels, who cannot seek a third consecutive term as governor.
In the next legislative session, Daniels said, he'll likely push proposals that failed this year, including a criminal sentencing overhaul and efforts to change local township governments.
In his announcement, Daniels said he decided not to run for president because of the impact a race would have on his family, including his wife, Cheri, and four adult daughters. He said Tuesday his daughters deserve a chance to build their own families without having security follow their every move.