INDIANAPOLIS – Republican Mitch Daniels on Wednesday stood in front of the iconic campaign RV that helped shepherd him into the governor’s office back in 2004 and prepared for one last ride before it goes on display at the RV Hall of Fame in Elkhart.
During his campaigns, the Republican used the RV as a mobile campaign headquarters – though most of his staff stayed back in Indianapolis making phone calls and raising money as Daniels traveled more than 100,000 miles visiting small towns and meeting with Hoosiers.
“I believe the reason I still get asked all the time about this vehicle is that it came to stand for certain things that were more important than me and more important than a political campaign,” Daniels said. “This is everybody’s government and as many people as humanly possible ought to be able to talk to it through the governor.”
Daniels said the RV also told Hoosiers that “everywhere matters.”
“We took this thing on roads and to places it was never built to go to,” Daniels said. “It’s a wonder it still rolls at all.”
Pointing to former campaign managers and staffers – including some who had ridden thousands of miles with him – Daniels said some of his favorite stories are the mishaps:
The time that Adam Horst, who is now the state’s budget director, drove the RV under an overpass a tunnel and knocked off its air conditioner.
The day that an awning started to tear and Ben Lido, who did most of the RV driving during the 2004 campaign, helped Daniels cut it the rest of the way off and toss it to the side of the road. “Somehow (campaign manager Bill) Oesterle got a volunteer out there” to pick it up, Daniels said.
And the time the RV got blocked into a parking lot at the Montgomery Courthouse and Horst and Daniels had to move a barricade to get out. “Otherwise, we’d still be there,” the governor said.
On Wednesday, Ledo took the wheel to navigate the well-worn RV onto the roads that would take the group to Tipton, Plymouth and then Elkhart.
Daniels is donating the RV to the Indiana State Museum but it will reside for now at the RV Hall of Fame.
Lesley Weidenbener is managing editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.