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Five questions for Mitch Daniels

By Jim Acosta, CNN
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Indiana governor gets campus buzzing
  • Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels says he'll decide soon about seeking 2012 GOP presidential nod
  • Daniels has called the mounting national debt a "red menace"
  • Governor says Students for Daniels movement on college campuses has inspired him
  • Daniels calls President Barack Obama's deficit reduction plan the "wrong policy"

(CNN) -- Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels says he'll have an answer on running for president after his state's Legislature wraps up its business at the end of the month. The Republican's message on the national debt has earned him a following on college campuses across the country.

In an interview with CNN, the governor said a Students for Daniels movement has inspired him seriously to consider a run for the White House. "I owe them an answer," he said.

Daniels becoming big man on campus

CNN: Are you getting closer to an answer on 2012?

Mitch Daniels: I'm closer yes. ... The calendar says to be a serious advocate or candidate one can't wait a whole lot longer.

CNN: The Students for Daniels movement has spread to nearly 60 colleges across the country. Do they have you thinking about a run?

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Daniels: They've put the time and effort into appealing to me and I feel, yes, I have some reciprocal responsibility to them. ... None of the appeals has affected me quite as much as theirs.

CNN: You've called the mounting national debt a "red menace." What did you think of the president's deficit plan, specifically his call to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy?

Daniels: I think it's the wrong policy. The president's own budget says we have to start growing this economy at a much more rapid rate and anything you do that hurts that is really counterproductive to your own policy.

CNN: What about House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's plan to transform Medicare into a "premium support" plan? Critics say it's a voucher system.

Daniels: I think he's headed down exactly the right track. A lot of Democrats have been for this in the past. ... It's exactly what was done in the Medicare drug benefit Part D. So you can say this idea has been road-tested.

CNN: Unlike some of the Republicans considering a run in 2012, you don't throw many rhetorical bombs at the president. Why?

Daniels: I have very profound differences with the president and the policies he's implemented. But I do think our politics does not benefit from some of the vitriol and personalization that both sides are often guilty of.

To make these huge, some say impossible, changes that I believe we must make to have another American Century, it would help if we could be a little more understanding with each other, a little more civil with each other. It will take a large coalition of people, I believe, to make the change that we need.