|by Howard W. Hewitt • October 5, 2004|
Indiana Republican gubernatorial candidate Mitch Daniels said growing new jobs and supporting small business are two of the cornerstones to building Indiana’s economy and keeping young people from leaving the state.
Daniels spoke to more than 100 students, faculty and community members Tuesday afternoon in Wabash Chapel. Daniels faces incumbent Democrat Joe Kernan in the Nov. 2 general election.
"If we can regenerate income and job growth in this state then we’ll keep our best young people at home," the former Bush and Reagan administration member said. "Very few of them want to leave for lifestyle reasons. I think overwhelmingly, from the kids and the parents of those kids I meet, they leave regretfully because of the lack of economic opportunity."
Daniels’ message was on target for College Young Republicans’ president Andrew Wells ’06.
"The one thing I’m glad he talked about today is his desire to bring business and jobs back to Indiana," the Portland native said. "I’ve seen it while here - people older than me that I knew graduating having to leave the state and not really wanting to."
Daniels, 54, reiterated familiar campaign themes during a 45-minute presentation but also took questions from the audience.
"We desperately need to diversify the mix of jobs in our state even while trying to support our manufacturing because they can’t carry the whole load any more," the former Eli Lilly executive said.
"There won’t be any one answer because we’re too deep in the hole. But there are so many steps we could be taking in a new state government that might be more business minded and more committed to growth."
Throughout his speech Daniels talked about Indiana’s job losses over the past 16 years, during which time Democrats controlled the governor’s office.
Daniels’ appearance was co-sponsored by Young Republicans and The Commentary.
"I was surprised at the number of examples he had and all the information," said Commentary spokesman Ken Rudolph ’05. "I just figured it would be a stock speech. I figured more vagueness and theories, nothing real concrete.
"He seemed to address the main problems we have in the state. He’s really got a concrete idea of what to do if he gets elected."
More than 50 people waited outside the Chapel for Daniels’ Crawfordsville arrival. Many stayed afterwards to sign their name to his now-familiar RV that has traveled the state for the past 15 months of campaigning.
The candidate said he has visited each of Indiana’s 92 counties at least three times and been to Montgomery County six or seven. He told the Chapel audience he has spent more time than the experts would recommend talking to young people.
"I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration, a lot of uplift and had a lot of fun," Daniels said of the college and high school visits. "I’m a parent of four daughters who are college age or just out of college. So our house has been full of young people for as long as I can remember.
"When people press me to explain why, for the first time in my life, I run for public office I tell them they’ll know we’ve succeeded, and for the benefit of all Hoosiers, when our best young people know they can stay here and realize their dreams."