ABC's Michael Falcone, Sara Just and Amy Walter report: Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has decided not to seek the Republican nomination for President, citing family considerations as a major factor in his decision.
For several months, many Republicans had been urging Daniels, hailed for his success in addressing economic issues, to consider joining the 2012 race.
As recently as last week on This Week with Christiane Amanpour, conservative columnist George Will predicted Daniels would be among the frontrunners in the Republican primary race.
"I think we know with reasonable certainty that standing up there on the west front of the Capitol on January 20th, 2013 will be one of three people: Obama, Pawlenty and Daniels," Will said.
In a Saturday late night email to supporters labeled “urgent” Daniels said “I hope this reaches you before the public news does, if so, please respect my confidence for the short time until I make it known to all.”
The email explains his decision:
"The counsel and encouragement I received from important citizens like you caused me to think very deeply about becoming a national candidate. In the end, I was able to resolve every competing consideration but one, but that, the interests and wishes of my family, is the most important consideration of all. If I have disappointed you, I will always be sorry," he added. "If you feel that this was a non-courageous or unpatriotic decision, I understand and will not attempt to persuade you otherwise. I only hope that you will accept my sincerity in the judgment I reached."
“Many thanks for your help and input during this period of reflection. Please stay in touch if you see ways in which an obscure Midwestern governor might make a constructive contribution to the rebuilding of our economy and our Republic."
Daniels also took the opportunity to "correct some factually incorrect accounts about the time when our family was divided."
The Daniels' have not spoken publicly about the details of their divorce and subsequent remarriage and there was plenty of speculation that this was the main thing holding Mitch Daniels back from running.
In the statement sent to the Indianapolis Star, Daniels said, "The notion that Cheri ever did or would “abandon” her girls or parental duty is the reverse of the truth and absurd to anyone who knows her, as I do, to be the best mother any daughter ever had."
One close supporter of Daniels told ABC News, "Obviously it was a deeply personal decision. Thousands are certainly disappointed – not the least of which are the students who started the draft movement across the nation – but you can't fault a guy for heeding the wishes of his family." The groundwork was there for a campaign said this source. " We were ready to go…just didn't get the green flag!"
His decision is good news for Minn. Gov. Tim Pawlenty. If Daniels were to jump in he would have overshadowed the already low-profile fellow midwestern Governor. Thanks to his support from many high profile Republicans Daniels would start off the race as the "anti-Romney" alternative, the same place Pawlenty wants to be positioned.
Daniels decision is also likely to increase pressure on other reluctant candidates like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and ex Florida Gov Jeb Bush. Both have said, repeatedly, that they aren't interested.