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Pence wants to steer Indiana to prosperity

Monday, June 20, 2011

(Photo)
Visiting Greencastle on Saturday morning, announced Republican candidate for governor Mike Pence (right) chats with local residents Steve Stamper and Mary Francis Snyder following a campaign appearance at the Putnam Inn. [Order this photo]
With the right leader at the wheel, Mike Pence believes Indiana's in the driver's seat for future growth and prosperity.

Pence, a Republican from Columbus who represents Indiana's 6th District in the U.S. Congress, revved up his 2012 gubernatorial effort and made his first campaign stop Saturday morning in Greencastle.

"Indiana is on the verge of an era of growth and opportunity like no other in my lifetime, and maybe in yours," the 52-year-old GOP candidate said.

(Photo)
Enjoying a laugh over his "Indiana Pork" shirt, GOP gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence (right) confers with Putnam County Councilman Keith Berry following the candidate's Greencastle campaign stop at the Putnam Inn.
"We're the lead car under the yellow light, and our opportunity to hit the accelerator when the green flag drops and lap the rest of the field is like no other," he told about 50 party faithful assembled at the Putnam Inn.

He said the Indiana that has emerged under the leadership of Gov. Mitch Daniels is the best place in the United States to grow a business or raise a family.

By looking for more tax relief and cutting out more federal red tape, Indiana can be an even better place to start or grow a business, Pence said, calling the Hoosier State the "fiscal envy of the country."

While many of the other states are going bankrupt, Indiana has not only balanced its budget but has cut taxes, Pence said. Going beyond that, he suggested, could take Indiana from "good to great."

As governor, he said he would put the emphasis back on what Indiana does best.

"If you want to sum up Indiana history," Pence said, "in Indiana, we grow things and we make things and we export them all over the world. In Indiana, everything begins with manufacturing and farming."

While many consider manufacturing as the "old Indiana economy," Pence noted that it still accounts for 25-35 percent of the Hoosier economy. "We have the highest percentage of manufacturing jobs of any state in the U.S."

Indiana, he suggested, can realistically set a goal of becoming the No. 1 state in the creation of manufacturing jobs.

"We can get there," he continued, "through tax relief and tax reform, promoting economic freedom and picking some big fights."

Overall Pence has a simple vision for the Hoosier economy.

"I want to pursue an economic policy where we create the kind of jobs that make it possible for my perfect daughters and their capable husbands to raise my perfect grandchildren in the same area code in which I live."

Loosely transplanted that means creating better-paying jobs that stave off the brain drain the state has encountered for decades with our younger, smarter adults seeking employment elsewhere rather than back home in Indiana.

"If I could wave a magic wand, I would use it to cut Indiana's unemployment rate," Pence said of the current 8.2 percent figure.

"Everything begins with a good-paying jobs," the GOP gubernatorial candidate added. "We've got to put that goal out there.

"We have to take what we already have in our 92 counties and build on that through areas like life science and logistics. Part of what we're going to do is travel the state and ask questions about how we can get this economy moving again."

Pence points to the Hoosier people as one of the prime reasons he has decided to run for governor.

"I love the state and everything about it," he said. "It's the people of this state and the character of the people of Indiana. With all biases disclosed, I can say that the people of Indiana are the best people in the United States of America."

Pence said when he had his radio talk show -- which he called "Rush Limbaugh on decaf" -- people called in from all over the state, from their kitchen tables to their cars to inside their combines.

Their "everyday wisdom," he said, "speaks volumes about the people of Indiana."

"We're going to run a 92-county campaign in 2012," Pence assured. "It's not about the TV ads or the political signs or the interviews and the press, it's about what you people in this room represent."

The initial focus will be on winning the Republican primary next May, when Pence is expected to be challenged by Jim Wallace, a Fishers businessman. The winner -- which virtually every political pundit from Fort Wayne to Floyds Knob expects to be Pence -- would then likely go up against Democrat John Gregg, the ex-speaker of the Indiana House, for governor.

The road to the governor's mansion is no slam-dunk, Pence assures, regardless of how much his campaign follows the two-term Daniels game plan.

"'Frontrunner' is not the way I see it," he said.

"I'm more a 20 points-behind guy. The other guy sees us coming, we know that. You're going to find out my campaign is going to be about who I am and what I stand for rather than who my Democrat opponent is going to be."