INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Mitch Daniels first won election as governor in 2004 by traveling the state in a recreational vehicle. Wednesday he made one last trip in RV1, from the Statehouse to Elkhart.
The final ride in RV1 started after a brief ceremony outside the Capitol.
"We took this thing on roads and into places it was never built to go to," the governor told a small crowd. "It's a wonder it still rolls at all. But those were the best times, I think."
Then it was on the road with the governor joined by Bill Oesterle, his 2004 campaign manager, Eric Holcomb, his 2008 campaign manager and the two guys who did most of the driving over 100,000 miles and two campaigns — Ben Ledo and Adam Horst. It was a trip devoted to storytelling, remembering places visited, the people encountered, and all the mishaps including efforts to throw campaign T-shirts into passing cars.
"We never missed a one," said Daniels, "until I didn't lead this one car quite enough and the guy’s hands weren't good enough. That's the only one I missed and I was upset for weeks after."
Oesterle is given credit for the idea to acquire an RV and to let supporters sign it, inside and out. He says using it became a way to celebrate Indiana, and there were other benefits.
"It's when he was in the office that he was miserable." said Oesterle of Daniels, "and we were miserable and so it worked out in this symbiotic (way). He was out on the road, he was happy. He was out on the road, we were happy."
"A lot of vehicles make sort of cameo appearances now and then," said Daniels, "but this thing was our everyday home."
And now, after four years in mothballs, it will become a part of Indiana political history. RV1 has been donated to the state museum and for the next year it will be on display at the RV Hall of Fame in Elkhart.
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