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Opening Arguments

Four more years and out

Gov. Mitch Daniels is being suggested for a course he should probably avoid:

As Republicans do some soul-searching about the future of the GOP, political analysts say they should look to their crop of progressive governors -- including Indiana's Mitch Daniels -- to help mold the party's future.

That may mean Daniels, who won a commanding victory Tuesday to a second term, has a future as a candidate for higher office -- an idea he has shunned so far.

But it might also mean that Republicans nationally adopt his approach to governing and politics, which combines conservative principles with pragmatism and competence, said Norman Ornstein, a senior scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C.

Combining "conservative principles with pragmatism and competence" is more suited for state than national government, and even here there's grumbling from some Republicans that Daniels seems a little to Democrat-like for them. At the national, level principle plus pragmatism brought us "compassionate conservatism" and the eight years of George Bush that the GOP is still reeling from.