More than 1,000 Republicans will pack an Indianapolis ballroom Thursday night to catch the state’s most anticipated political speech in years.
The speaker? Not Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, but his wife, Cheri, a woman who famously hates politics and has long shied from the political spotlight.
Cheri Daniels’s keynote appearance at the state GOP’s spring dinner is generating buzzâand more than a few TV satellite trucksâfor a simple reason: Party leaders see her as the main hurdle to Mr. Daniels’s entry in the 2012 presidential race, a move many top Republicans hope the governor will make.
“Everyone knows he won’t run unless she gives the go-ahead,” said James Bopp Jr., a prominent Indiana Republican. “That’s what makes this all so intriguing.”
The Cheri Daniels event is far outselling the group’s ballyhooed speaker last fall, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. “This is the biggest crowd we’ve had in at least a generation,” said Pete Seat, the state party’s spokesman.
The governor insists his wife has no plans to break news. “She’s going to talk about the life of the first lady, which she’s never made much of a display of,” he told reporters Monday.
But the mere fact that she’s addressing the state’s GOP faithful is stirring speculation that Mr. Daniels, a former aide to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, is gearing up for a 2012 bid. He says he will decide within weeks.