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Daniels pulls out all the stops

Daniels pulls out all the stops
Daniels pulls out all the stops
Republican gubernatorial candidate Mitch Daniels receives several parting gifts, including two publications by local historian Frederick P. Griffin (left) of Corydon, courtesy of the Harrison County Republican Party. Daniels even got to meet the author, and gave Griffin a tour of the 'My man Mitch' campaign bus. (Photo by Charles Ewry)

It’s almost customary for officeholders and candidates to run late. In fact, the press counts on it. But, when Republican gubernatorial candidate Mitch Daniels had an 11 a.m. appointment with Corydon, the only person with time to spare was Daniels.
He was early.
Sitting down to lunch, even his aides were surprised at having arrived in Corydon on time, but they should be getting used to it.
Covering more than 8,300 Hoosier miles in 47 days, Daniels, 54, was on pace to finish his tour of Indiana’s counties two weeks ahead of schedule when he arrived Friday in the first state capital.
Harrison County was the 56th stop among Indiana’s 92 counties, all part of the candidate’s latest, 100-day campaign trail.
‘People ask if I’m worn out or exhausted,’ Daniels said. ‘Compared to what George Bush had me do the past couple of years, this is not hard labor.’
On the contrary, riding around in a bus covered with the signatures of supporters and the occasional ‘My man Mitch’ logo, Daniels said, ‘I can’t imagine the memories I’m going to have after 11 months, or, I hope, 16 months of doing this.’
Rolling into town just before lunch, Daniels and supporters partook of a buffet at the Wright Interpretive Center in Corydon. He was introduced by Larry Shickles, Harrison County’s Republican party chair.
‘Indiana. It’s certain while it has had its troubles in the last couple of years, we see a new gubernatorial opportunity on the horizon,’ Shickles said.
After the meal, Daniels shared some of the memories he has already accumulated on his tour through Indiana. Among those anecdotes was the tale of the Jasper County Community Band.
In Kentland, ‘A lady at my table asks, ‘Do you play any musical instruments?’ ‘ Daniels recalled. Though he does not, he was invited to band practice (he carried her cornet).
On the way, she said, ‘I’m a widow lady, you know, and this will be really good for my reputation.’
During practice, the band found a place for Daniels. He got to conduct the ‘Washington Post March.’
‘Where would I have gotten such an experience? A lady in the French horn section asked, ‘If you get elected, can we play at your inaugural?’ ‘ Daniels said.
And that’s the story of how the Jasper County Community Band made the entertainment roster for his inaugural, should Daniels be the voters’ choice.
His trip through Indiana isn’t just about collecting colorful stories. Daniels said that the tour’s purpose is two-fold. He said he wants to let every Hoosier and every community know that they count, and he’s out to prepare and learn.
For a man who’s always on time and has a lot of engagements, Daniels didn’t appear to be in a hurry. He said he likes to allow plenty of extra time everywhere he goes, lending his ear to local concerns.
And, what will be the most important issues facing the next governor of Indiana?
‘Jobs and Growth are one, two and three. If we don’t turn around our economic decline … we’ll never be able to pay the state’s bills or provide the services we want,’ Daniels said.
‘That’s what motivated me in the race. I felt I had read one too many stories about the decline of Indiana. I saw a note of fatalism creep in. We can’t run up the economic white flag. We have more to offer than we are selling,’ he added.
Daniels ended his visit to Corydon with a tour of the First State Capitol hosted by Historic Interpreter Nancy Snyder, where Daniels, who is from Indianapolis, was reminded that he is from Indiana’s second state capitol.