Clay County Prosecutor Dave Thomas and Republican gubernatorial candidate Mitch Daniels greet city residents outside the Mitch Daniels Campaign Headquarters, a large RV, Friday. Daniels is out getting the vote, stopping in each county in less than 100 days. The RV was parked on the lot south of the Clay County Courthouse.
By LUCY PERRY
Gubernatorial candidate Mitch Daniels rolled into town on a mission Friday.
Since announcing his candidacy a month ago, he's determined to pay a visit to each of Indiana's 92 counties in less than 100 days. And, so far, he's zipped through one third of them. Daniels, who seeks the Republican nomination and is gearing up for competition against Democrats Joe Andrew and Vi Simpson next year, wants your vote.
Stopping in Brazil and parking a large RV behind the courthouse, he greeted several Clay County backers. A couple of his campaign aids sported "My Man Mitch" buttons and shirts. The phrase easily became Daniels' slogan for the governor race as he resigned his position from the White House cabinet as director of the Office of Management and Budget. President George W. Bush was then quoted saying it at a speech in Daniels' hometown, Indianapolis, before he officially announced his intentions to run for the state office.
The RV is clad with supporters' signatures and well wishes for Daniels' road trip.
"This is my home away from home," Daniels said, pointing to the camper. He added that he gets back home at least two days a week to see his family. Before arriving in Brazil on Friday, he'd visited Martinsville and Spencer.
He wanted to do things a little differently than his counterparts, he said, explaining why he's embarked on the statewide tour. He claimed Brazil is one of the larger communities he's stopped at so far, because he's been focusing on cities where candidates typically overlook.
"I promise if people hire me as their governor, every city and every community will count," he said. "I feel a duty to do all I can."
Daniels, 54, has lived in Indiana since age 10. He has long felt the state is special because it's a place anyone can build a future. But that future is threatened because of the "economic slump" the state's in, he said, promising to focus on bringing quality jobs and opportunities back, if elected.
"People are really concerned about the state," he said. "If I get the chance, I'm going to get up every day and try to figure out a way to bring jobs to this state."
Daniels previously served in the Reagan White House, when he was appointed chief political advisor and as the administration's liaison to the nation's state and local officials. He also worked several years for an Indiana Institution, Eli Lilly, where he headed a multi-billion-dollar business enterprise. He'll say it's his business sense that will guide the area out of deficit more than anything else. Others agree, Daniels has the know-how.
"When we have the opportunity to hire the former budget director of the White House, we need to do it," stressed Rep. Andy Thomas. "A governor who can manage the state budget is exactly what we need."
Sheriff Rob Carter, attorney Amos Thomas, Prosecutor Dave Thomas and several courthouse employees were also on hand to welcome the Daniels team.
"I think he's the best man for the job," said Amos Thomas. "With his experience and knowledge, he probably is the best man for the job."
Daniels took a tour of the Clay County Courthouse before going back to Indianapolis for the weekend.
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