Mitch Daniels Biography

U.S. Governor (1949–)
Republican politician Mitch Daniels is the governor of Indiana and worked in the administrations of presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.


Born in 1949, Mitch Daniels studied public and international affairs at Princeton University, graduating in 1971. He earned his law degree from Georgetown University in 1979 and later worked for President Ronald Reagan's administration. Daniels later held executive positions with the Hudson Institute and Eli Lilly and Company. In 2001, he became President George W. Bush's budget director. Daniels became governor of Indiana in 2005.

Education and Early Career

Born in Pennsylvania, politician Mitch Daniels has made his name in another state. The Indiana governor has become a prominent national Republican figure during his two terms in office. He moved to Virginia with his family at an early age. A bright student, Daniels graduated from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 1971.

Daniels then pursued a law degree. During his legal studies, he interned with Richard Lugar, then the mayor of Indianapolis. Lugar won a seat in the Senate in 1976 and brought Daniels to Washington, D.C., as his chief of staff. In addition to managing his position with Lugar, Daniels found time to complete his law degree at Georgetown University in 1979. In the mid-1980s, Daniels moved on to work at the White House during President Ronald Reagan's administration.

In 1987, Daniels returned to Indiana to serve as the president and CEO of the Hudson Institute, a conservative policy research and analysis firm. He held this position for several years before making the move to the private sector. In 1990, Daniels became a top executive at the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Company. He eventually became a senior vice president of corporate strategy and policy for the company.

In 2001, Daniels returned to Washington, D.C. when President George W. Bush selected him to serve as the director of the Office of Management and Budget. In this position, Daniels earned his reputation as a fiscal conservative. He emphasized cost-cutting and reducing spending as the nation struggled financially. His budget recommendations did not always go over well with other politicians. "I can do my duty to the president or be universally popular, but probably not both," Daniels once said, according to The New York Times.

Life in Public Office

In 2004, Daniels launched a grassroots campaign for the governorship of Indiana. He traveled across the state—sometimes on his motorcycle—and often stayed in the homes of his supporters. After winning the election, Daniels set out to improve his state's financial situation. He took office in 2005 and almost immediately established the Indiana Economic Development Corporation to attract new businesses and more jobs to the state.

A supporter of smaller government, Daniels created the Indiana Toll Road in 2006, which privatized this stretch of roadway. Through this effort and others he was able to help the state make a remarkable fiscal recovery. He ran for a second term in 2008 and won by a landslide. Not only conservative in terms of budgetary spending, Daniels has proved to be a social conservative as well. He is a pro-life supporter and signed a bill in 2011 that denied federal funding for Planned Parenthood in the state.

Around this same time, rumors circulated about Daniels becoming a possible Republican presidential candidate. He didn't put his hat into the ring, however. In 2012, Daniels put his support behind former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. He has since downplayed any suggestion that Romney might pick him to be his running mate. If approached, Daniels said in an television interview that ""I think I would demand reconsideration and send Mr. Romney a list of people I think could suit better."

In June 2012, Daniels won election to a very different type of position. The board of trustees for Purdue University selected him as the school's next president. When his appointment was announced, Daniels officially stepped out of the political arena for the world of academics. "Effective immiediately, I will recuse myself from any partisan political activities or commentary," he said in a statement from Purdue University. Daniels is expected to assume his post at Purdue in January 2013 after completing his term as governor.

Personal Life

Daniels and his wife Cheri have four daughters together, Meagan, Melissa, Meredith and Maggie. The twice-married couple split up for several years during the 1990s.

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