Daniels Shares Thoughts On Right To Work, Political Future In Sit-Down Interview

By Jeff Neumeyer

December 7, 2011 Updated Dec 8, 2011 at 5:09 PM EDT

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- He chose not to run for President, but Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels says he is ready to take part in a national conversation about how to head off what he believes is a looming financial crisis in this country.

Daniels talked about that and other issues Tuesday in a sit-down interview at the Indiana Statehouse.

Daniels has said he has no regrets about steering clear of a run for the White House in 2012.

But Daniels told Jeff Neumeyer, he sees an urgent need for big change in national economic policy, and if asked, says he'll try to make a positive alternative case to what President Obama has been doing in the fiscal arena.

We asked him what seven years on the job has taught him about being governor.

Daniels says his life on the hot seat has left him open to plenty of untrue, even malicious attacks.

Gov. Mitch Daniels/(R) Indiana: " You're first instinct, human nature I guess, is sort of shoot back. But if your goal is results, then you're just a whole lot better off to shrug it off."

The Governor may want to cling to that advice, because he figures to catch a lot of flak in the upcoming legislative session, if the controversial "right to work" bill comes up for debate.

22 states already have "right to work", which says you can't be made to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

Democratic lawmakers, opposed to the concept, ran off to Illinois in the last session to block “right to work” and education reforms they didn't like.

Does Daniels think they might step out again to stymie “right to work”?

Gov. Mitch Daniels: " I don't know what they'll decide. Sure it'd be a concern. First of all, it would be a dereliction of duty. I thought it was very embarrassing for our state when it happened the first time. I really hope they won’t walk out this time. I'm guessing that it won't happen, but it's not for me to say."

Daniels is hopeful a statewide smoking ban will, after years of missed attempts, finally be put in force in 2012.

He also expects lawmakers will focus attention on requiring on-line retailers like Amazon to collect state sales tax.

And he foresees legislative action to promote a larger, one-time payout to victims of the Indiana State Fair stage collapse.

Daniels says he's a big fan of Congressman Mike Pence, but sticking with his standard practice, he doesn't plan to support Pence or any other GOP candidate in the May Gubernatorial Primary.

That's not the case, however, in a U.S. Senate race.

Governor Daniels: " I'm making one exception, and only one, and it's for Senator Lugar, who I've been associated with so very long."

If Daniels had run for President, he would have been forced to tackle the complicated issue of immigration.

He says he favors tighter border control, but says we would be misguided if we kept everybody out who wanted to get in.

Daniels: " I would take more people, frankly, with brains or money, or both."

As far as his unfinished business list, Daniels says he wants to shepherd along a host of road and wetlands protection projects.

He also wants to see progress in local government and criminal justice reform, and says he will likely spring a couple of other things on Hoosiers in the January "State of the State" Address.

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