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Club for Growth president defends Mitch Daniels attack ad

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The president of a national conservative group on Friday said Indiana needs new leadership in Washington, D.C., that Mitch Daniels can’t provide.

In an exclusive interview with News 8, Club for Growth President David McIntosh said Mitch Daniels represents an old style of conservatism that caved to Democratic demands too often. He said Republican voters want someone who will stop the Democratic Party’s agenda and undo their past work.

“One of the things we wanted to do is let Hoosiers know what the choice is going to be in this Senate race,” he said. “There’s a lot at stake here and Mitch’s style of politics is outdated.”

Current U.S. Sen. Mike Braun is running for Indiana governor in 2024, so the state will have an open Senate seat that year. A December poll by Bellwether Research, which worked on Daniels’ gubernatorial campaigns, gave Daniels a clear lead over other potential Republican candidates. Of respondents to the poll, 32% said Daniels was their preferred candidate. U.S. Rep. Jim Banks had the second-highest level of support, at 10%. McIntosh says polls said something similar ahead of last year’s Senate race in North Carolina. In that election, former Gov. Pat McCrory ran as a Daniels-style conservative and lost to now-Sen. Ted Budd, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump early in the primary.

Daniels worked on McIntosh’s unsuccessful campaign for governor in 2000. Asked why he chose to attack a onetime political ally, McIntosh insisted there was nothing personal behind his decision.

“What it is is basically a message that it’s time for somebody new,” he said. “It’s more about the policies and what the right direction is.”

Christie Luther Hurst, the co-founder of the group Frugal Hoosiers for Mitch, said the ad doesn’t change her group’s mission to try to recruit Daniels to run. She said she doesn’t expect the ad to change prospective voters’ perceptions, either.

“Seeing the ad, my first thought was scenes of tourists who try to take selfies with bison,” she said. “That’s never going to end well.”

McIntosh said Club for Growth plans to spend “eight figures” in Indiana’s 2024 Senate race. Of the candidates whose names have been floated so far, McIntosh said he hopes Banks runs. Club for Growth supported Banks’ original run for Congress.

“All INdiana Politics” airs at 9:30 a.m. Sundays on WISH-TV.