Indiana First Lady Cheri Daniels Avoids 2012 Speculation, Calls Herself An ‘Honorary Hooters Girl’

May 12, 2011 9:32pm

ABC News’ Michael Falcone (@michaelpfalcone) reports:

The wife of Indiana governor and potential GOP presidential candidate Mitch Daniels revealed to an audience of Republicans in Indianapolis on Thursday night her expertise milking cows, her favorite country music singer (Keith Urban), and one of her nicknames — “pig whisperer.”

What Indiana First Lady Cheri Daniels did not do, however, is engage in speculation about her husband’s possible bid for the Republican presidential nomination even though she is thought to wield significant influence over Gov. Mitch Daniels’ decision.

 “I truly appreciate the encouragement you have given Mitch,” Mrs. Daniels said during a much-anticipated — and mostly lighthearted — keynote address at the Indiana Republican Party’s annual spring dinner.

“I think this speaks for itself,” Mrs. Daniels said, warming up the crowd, “but I am an honorary Hooters girl.”

The speech was viewed as a coming out party of sorts for Mrs. Daniels, whose rocky marital history with her husband has come under intense scrutiny as  Gov. Daniels nears his decision on a presidential run.  The couple married in 1978 and divorced in 1993 when Mrs. Daniels left her husband and their four daughters to marry another man in California. They eventually reconciled and were remarried in 1997.

“In 1975, I met a small town girl,” Gov. Daniels said introducing his wife, “I couldn't take my eyes off her legs.”

Gov. Daniels also mostly steered clear of 2012 presidential politics Thursday night even as the crowd erupted into chants of “Run Mitch, Run!”

“There’s been a whole lot of speculation leading up to tonight, no sense beating around the bush about that,” Gov. Daniels said. “I’m not saying I won’t do it.”

But he didn’t say he would either.

"I've got to be the homeliest, most boring person to ever think about running for president, based on what I read,” Daniels joked. In a nod to his potential Republican rivals, Gov. Daniels acknowledged that there are already “an awful lot of people — good people out there — jockeying, maneuvering” for the nomination.

Daniels, who has been governor of Indiana since 2005 and served in the presidential administrations of George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, has said that he plans to announce a decision around Memorial Day.

“We won’t take long,” he told reporters after a speech last week in Washington, DC, noting that “family considerations are always the most important” factor.

Though Gov. Daniels remained coy about his presidential ambitions on Thursday night, he did not hide his apparent affection for his wife, who he referred to as “my bride.”

“Those who know her know why I love her,” he said, adding: “Everyone can form their own opinion. I just love the way she’s handled this role.”

Mrs. Daniels, who took the stage to the 1960’s tune, “Sherry,” which she said was one of her favorite songs, served up little political red meat  but a lot of humor during her remarks, weaving in video clips of herself taking top honors for cow milking at the Indiana State Fair.

She received a silver, engraved milk bucket as a gift at the dinner.

“If you came here tonight expecting a strong political speech,” she said. “you'll be disappointed.”

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