He has become such a familiar figure in Indiana that some Hoosiers have almost forgotten a time when Mitch Daniels wasn't governor. But, voters will elect his successor Tuesday.
Governor Daniels sat down with Fox59 News and reflected on his eight years in office from a porch swing on a cabin in Perry County that overlooks some of Indiana’s most beautiful land.
Daniels gave Fox59 unprecedented access on a not so typical day. He flew to Rome, Ind., for a ceremony marking the sale of scenic land on the Ohio River to the DNR by a former governor. It was one of his final flights to Southern Indiana before he leaves office at the end of the year.
"There's a time for everything, there's a season and we think we've had a really great season...eight years. I hope I'm not too nostalgic about it, move on and let someone else have a chance."
Daniels' last days in office have been marked with gratitude. He poses for pictures, signs autographs and shakes hands with countless Hoosiers-- all of them wishing him luck as he leaves office.
"I always tell them, don't thank me, just expect the next team to do great things and make sure they do,” the Governor said.
Daniels came into office in an RV that he drove around the state as part of his “My Man Mitch” campaign. Indiana’s budget was bleeding red and Daniels admits he had no idea how bad the state’s finances really were at the time.
"I didn't know how bad things were. Then it wasn't until we looked under the hood that we realized how broke the state was, how really broke and dysfunctional so many state agencies were."
Today, Daniels can look back on many victories-- from passing Daylight Saving Time, to repairing roads and bridges, and reforming property taxes. Daniels' success led many Republican leaders to push him to run for President. Daniels admits he was close to accepting the challenge.
"Reasonably close, I didn't take it seriously at first, it was never anything I intended to do. But enough people you admire a lot, people you never heard of in your life... finally, I did take it seriously."
The Governor also shared thoughts about how his political life had affected his family, including his First Lady Cheri Daniels. She has often shied away from the spotlight. Something Daniels says was no accident.
"We don't feel she has an obligation to go everywhere I go and stare adoringly at the podium while I talk."
Mitch Daniels has plenty of regrets as he leaves office and many admitted failures as well. But he says he leaves office with a sense of completion and a sense that this chapter of his life is over.
"It's much, much better. I've always felt in any walk of life to go a day too soon than stay a day too long."
Exclusive: Governor Mitch Daniels reflects on eight years in office
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