10 Questions With National Federation of Independent Business CEO Dan Danner


Are you satisfied with the current field of Republican candidates, or is there someone out there who you wish would run for president?

I can make a choice given the current field. I think probably like a lot of people, if you backed us up 10 months and said, 'Were there other people you would've liked to see be in the race?', I'd say absolutely. I'm a great fan of Mitch Daniels. I understand and respect him for personal reasons because I think family comes first. But in terms of his budgetary background at a time that clearly one of the biggest challenges we have out there is our budgets and the deficit and entitlements, he not only brings a great knowledge of that and detailed knowledge of that, but he also has a fabulous track record in Indiana.

After a day of politicking and policy wonkerage, what's your favorite nonpolitical activity to clear your head?

I love the beach. We have a little condo over outside Bethany beach in Delaware, and when the weather's nice, even if it's for – leave late on Friday and come back Sunday night – it's sort of like, at the other side of the Bay Bridge, the world looks different. You know, it's peaceful – flip flops, T-shirt, bathing suit and a beach chair and a book, about 10 paces away from the waves rolling in. I find that enormously peaceful, and I really enjoy the beach and everything about it. I'm pretty sure I probably don't have at the beach a collared shirt. I don't have any hard-soled shoes. It's either Dockers or flip-flops, more often the flip flops. I do enjoy playing golf. Somewhat over there and somewhat when I'm here. But the beach is still the most relaxing. I got some Buffett T shirts – I'm a Buffett fan. We've gone here for six or seven years. We go, tailgate, and I have Margaritaville on my satellite radio, and when he's here we usually do a concert at the State Theatre. He's a lot of fun. Yeah, I'm a Buffett fan. I enjoy it.

Tell me about your lighter side – I hear you can be a prankster.

I'm a great fan of the Capitol Steps. We've actually taken our board to see them, 'cos I think it's great to lampoon everything that goes on in Washington. We like to celebrate. We celebrate birthdays. We're about to have our annual NFIB Masters putting contest. We'll have holes all around the hallways, sand traps and water traps. We bring in azaleas. We have prizes and a leader board. There's enough tension here, if you can't have fun — we have signs and we have 'ground under repair' where there's a small tear in the carpet. We've had more than one office over the years, when somebody's come back from testifying for the first time on the Hill or something, their office is full of balloons. They papered over his desk and everything. [At this point in the interview, Danner's public relations assistant told a story about a woman who worked near his office who had to have everything on her desk perfectly straight and at right angles at all times.] Everything was perfect, you just do one thing, go like that, and it's like, would she find it? When you think, all these things in the desk, how would you know if one thing – you'd never look for it – if this was like this and you just went like that would she notice it? And she would. I'd just sort of casually walk by later. It's like, golly. It's a lot of fun.

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