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The person selected to give the loyal opposition response to the president's State of the Union message is significant.

And the winner is: Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Daniels will, I imagine politely, counter President Barack Obama by enunciating the Republican counterpoint to Obama's message Tuesday.

Mitch Daniels? Yep.

Why?

I will be happy to tell you why. Daniels is likely the only registered Republican voter who has not at one point during the past year declared himself a candidate for the nation's highest office.

Many of those have fallen by the wayside, and it looks for all intents and purposes that it will end up being a battle between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.

Why wouldn't a high-profile Republican who will likely face an uphill battle against an incumbent Obama not be enlisted to deliver one of the most crucial of responses to a sitting president's pronouncement?

My guess? Daniels is being groomed for the next election, not this one. After all, isn't that how Obama was elected in the first place?

Yep. His amazing delivery of the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention at the 2004 nomination of John Kerry propelled him into the national spotlight.

Look at the parallels: Who was Obama then? An obscure freshman representative from a Midwestern city we shall call Chicago not know for its clean politics.

In fact, his political resume was less impressive than that of Daniels, who has served as governor of Indiana for two terms and has a record of keeping the state on the right side of the budgetary ledger while all those around him are fumbling in their couches for loose change.

Daniels had some family issues which kept him out of the race this year, even though I think he could have been a viable candidate.

Gingrich has been much-married, although I think a lot of Americans could relate to that or at least sympathize. It's not the scandal it once was when Grover Cleveland went to the White House in the late 19th century despite an admission he had fathered a child out of wedlock.

(The slogan of the GOP against Democrat Cleveland was "Ma! Ma! Where's my pa?" and the Democratic response was a jaunty "Gone to the White House! Ha! Ha! Ha!")

But don't be shocked if Daniels is being primed for a run at 1600 Pennsylvania in 2016.

At least he has a better chance than Chicago has of getting the Olympics that year.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at mark.kiesling@nwi.com or (219) 933-4170.

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