In another sign that Mitch Daniels is looking for a broader stage and eyeing a presidential run, the Indiana governor has accepted an invitation to be the Republican speaker at this year’s Gridiron Club dinner.
The annual journalism dinner has been used in the past by potential presidential candidates to break out of the pack and shine before an audience that includes the president, members of Congress, and leading publishers and editors.
This year’s dinner on March 12 will also feature speeches by President Obama and, representing the Democrats, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Daniels was White House political director for President Reagan and budget director for President George W. Bush. He's a fiscal conservative who has raised some hackles in his party by calling for a GOP "truce" on social issues.
Earlier this week, the American Principles Project protested Daniels's prime speaking slot at next month's Conservative Political Action Conference, calling it "an affront to the millions of conservatives who believe that social issues such as abortion and traditional marriage are non-negotiable."
In his "state of the state" speech to Indiana legislators this week, Daniel focused on deficit reduction and education reform. Another potential GOP presidential contender, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, went out of his way to brag about his state's opposition to abortion and gay marriage.