What Is the Story About the Story About Mitch Daniels' Marriage?

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May 12 2011 2:33 PM

What Is the Story About the Story About Mitch Daniels' Marriage?


Cheri Daniels, the wife of Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, is supposed to give a speech at a Republican Party dinner tonight. This is important, for some reason that has to do with Mitch Daniels' potential candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.

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The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny reported that "

" and that there has been "increased scrutiny on the couple's private life."



Specifically, the troublesome "part of the personal narrative" is


a three-year gap in their marriage in the 1990s, when she filed for divorce, moved to California with a new husband and left Mr. Daniels to raise their four daughters, then ages 8 to 14. She later returned and remarried him.

And? They got married, mumble mumble, they are married now. It's a pretty common story arc for marriages, even if there was more paperwork in the middle than usual. There are certainly

than that in this presidential field.



If Mitch Daniels had custody of the children during the couple's years apart, then it's hard to see what would be so damaging to him about the details, if the details were being publicized—which they are not. Cheri Daniels, Zeleny wrote


has never publicly discussed their divorce and is not expected to suddenly do so in the not-so-intimate setting of a hotel ballroom filled with political activists.

Yet here it is, being non-discussed in the Times (and the

, and the

). All this attention, turning so suddenly. Luckily, Jason Horowitz of the Washington Post has

:


A rival campaign has identified the first lady’s reticence as a pressure point before she steps fully into the limelight....

In exchange for anonymity, an official for another GOP prospect provided contact information for the ex-wife of the man Cheri Daniels married, in the years between her divorce and remarriage to Daniels. Other officials at potential rival campaigns to Daniels disagreed about whether the personal history of Cheri Daniels would ever be a vulnerability or even germane to the race.

So: it's already time for preemptive oppo. Psy-oppo-ops. Remember when the Hillary Clinton campaign had stuff that was simply going to destroy Barack Obama? (Remember when Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain each starred in Cheri Daniels-style reluctant-spouse storylines?) Mitch Daniels has been warned. Or is Mitch Daniels doing the warning? The Washington Post, again:


"I talked to the governor briefly," said Jane Jankowski, a spokeswoman for Daniels, when asked for a response to the preemptive attack. "And Governor Daniels chooses to believe that no candidate would employ such tactics, and if someone working for a candidate did such a thing, it must not have been authorized."
If.

Daniels has a hypothetical meta-rejection of the preemptive speculation about a possible narrative line if he were to enter the race. (I think. I may have missed a step or two.) And it makes him come out as being above the fray. This is already more canny and impressive than anything Newt Gingrich has come up with.


Tom Scocca is the managing editor of Deadspin and the author of Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future.

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