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Daniels, Mitchell Elias, Jr., 1949-



  • Existence: April 7, 1949 -

Biographical Information

Mitchel E. Daniels Jr. has had a long and career in the private and public sector, holding state and national political positions, working in the in the business sector, and as a university administrator. Some of his more prominent roles include serving for two United States president administrations including Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, as a long-time aid to Senator Richard Lugar, as a top executive at the Eli Lilly Corporation, as a two-term Governor of Indiana, and as the President of Purdue University. He is the author of three books and served on numerous civic and philanthropic boards and organizations. He also the recipient of a large number of awards including being named to Fortune Magazine’s list of the top 50 world leaders in March 2015 and named a Living Legend by the Indiana Historical Society in June of 1916.

Daniels was born in Monongahela, Pennsylvania on April 7, 1949 to Dorothy Mae (née Wilkes) and Mitchell Elias Daniels Sr. Daniels early childhood was spent in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Georgia before moving to Indiana in 1959. He graduated from North Central High School in Indianapolis in 1967 and was named as one of Indiana's Presidential Scholars by President Lyndon B. Johnson. He received his Bachelors degree from Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 1971 and received his JD from Georgetown University Law Center in 1979. Daniels married Cheri Herman in 1978. They had four children, Meagan, Melissa, Meredith and Margaret. Daniels lived most of his life in the Indianapolis area with the exception for periods that he lived in Washington D. C. for his positions in the White House.

Daniels is a Republican with Libertarian leanings; fiscally conservative, but often preferring to avoid governmental intervention into social matters. His involvement in politics began when he took the Fall semester of 1968 off to work on the U.S. Senate Campaign of William Ruckelshaus for the Indiana seat which was won by Birch Bayh in the general election. This led him to summer internships with Richard Lugar’s office in 1969 and 1970 when Lugar was Mayor of Indianapolis. He then worked for L. Keith Bulen, then Marion County chairman from 1971 to 1974. Daniels served as Mayor Lugar’s “Chief Assistant,” worked on Lugar’s losing 1974 Senatorial bid, then ran Lugar’s successful 1976 senatorial campaign and became his Administrative Assistant in 1977 when Lugar assumed his tenure as a United States Senator. Daniels would later go on to run Lugar’s successful 1982 reelection campaign at a time when there was “blue wave” in the Midwest. He was widely credited with a late campaign-messaging pivot that lead to Lugar’s defeat of challenger, Democrat U.S. Congressman, Floyd Fithian. Following the 1982 election victory, Lugar was elected chairman of the Senatorial Campaign Committee and appointed Daniels as Executive Director where he would run the GOP fund raising organization that channels money to GOP candidates. Starting in 1984, Daniels would go onto other political and corporate ventures but continued to provide support to Lugar’s Senatorial bids in 1988, 1994, and Lugar’s Presidential bid in 1996.

When Senator Richard Lugar became chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) in 1983, he named Daniels as the Executive Director, a position he held until December of 1984. The NRSC’s role was to assist Republican candidates running for Senate. Daniels’ main task was to retain the Republican Senate incumbents running for reelection in the 1984 election. Of the 18 incumbents running, 17 won with the GOP losing two seats total, but retaining control of the Senate with a 53 to 47 margin over the Democrats. He was hailed for his fundraising and cost cutting ability, raising $9.2 million during the first half of 1983 and over $80 million over a two-year period. Daniels left the NSCR with a $6 million surplus as opposed to a $3.5 million deficit he inherited in 1983.

Daniels served in the Reagan Administration from February 1985 to March 1987. His first role was as Deputy Assistant to the President and Director, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs (Deputy to Edward J. Rollins). When Rollins left that position in the Fall of 1985, President Reagan named Daniels as his successor. Daniels resigned from this position on January 30, 1987 (effective March 1, 1987) following the fallout from a rift between Daniels and Reagan’s White House Chief of Staff, Donald Regan. In early December, 1986, Daniels criticized Regan’s handling of the Iran Contra Affair and suggested that he should step down.

Upon his resignation from his position as Assistant to the President and Director, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Daniels took on two roles, one as the full time Executive Vice-President of the Hudson Institute, a conservative political think tank, and one with the law firm of Baker & Daniels (no relation). His position was “Of Council.” While at this law firm, he provided guidance in to the campaign of Rafael Leonardo Callejas Romero in his successful bid to win the presidency of Honduras in 1989. This marked the first time that power between two major Honduras parties was peacefully transferred since 1932. Daniels resigned from this position along with his position as President of the Hudson Institute when he was hired by Eli Lilly in 1990.

In the Fall of 1988, Daniels helped fellow Hoosier and vice-presidential candidate, Dan Quayle, prepare for the vice-presidential debate against Democratic opponent Lloyd Bensten on October 5, 1988. He helped prepare answers to possible questions, statements of specific topics, launch lines, and closing statements.

Daniels started his positon at the Hudson Institute in June 1987 as Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer. He was named President and Chief Executive Officer on September 1, 1987. At the time of Daniels’ tenure, the Hudson Institute was a public policy research organization (think tank) based in Indianapolis, Indiana, founded by Herman Kahn. Its focus was on national security, international energy and economics, education and employment policy, and several other fields. Daniels announced his new position with Eli Lilly in April 1990.

Daniels was hired at Lilly for the position of Vice President, Corporate affairs in 1990. His role was to be responsible for government relations at all levels, corporate communications, community relations, and corporate contributions. He was promoted to President of North American Operations (1993–97) and then to Senior Vice President for Corporate Strategy and Policy (1997–2001). Daniels defended the company’s product Prozac from attacks by the Church of Scientology International (CSI). In June of 1991, CSI printed a series of full-page ads in USA Today against the use of drugs to treat mental illness and depression, targeting Eli Lilly and its drug Prozac in particular. Daniels met with the editorial board of the newspaper regarding the charges and to defend the use of the drug. The next day, USA Today printed an article and quoted Daniels as saying “One thing we want you to understand is that the Church of Scientology is no church. It’s a commercial enterprise. Every judge and every investigative journalist who has ever looked at it has come away with that conclusion. It’s organized for only one purpose, which is to make money.” In February of 1992 CSI sued Daniels for defamation regarding the comments he made. In May of 1992, the court accepted Daniels’ request to dismiss the case on the grounds that no evidence was found to prove that Daniels statements were made with actual malice. Daniels left Lilly to accept the positon as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget for the George W. Bush Administration, which he started in January of 2001.

In January of 2001, Daniels accepted a position with the incoming White House administration of George W. Bush as the Director of the Office of Management Budget (OMB). Known for the nicknames he liked to give people, President Bush dubbed Daniels “The Blade” for his adherence to spending restraints and said that he was a “really good watchdog of taxpayer’s money.” (Washington Post, May 7, 2003) Daniels received heat from members of both parties due to his criticisms of their spending habits. He suggested that the motto for Congress should be “Don’t just stand there, spend something.” He was criticized for dismissing the Social Security surplus by saying “All the dollars are fungible.” His most infamous comment, one that he later expressed regret over, was when he said that said New Yorkers were involved in "a little money-grubbing game" for pursuing $20 billion to recover from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Daniels presided over the OMB at a time when the Bush administration turned a projected $5.6 trillion surplus in 2001 into a $2.2 trillion projected deficit when Daniels left office. This was due to the extensive tax cuts by the Bush administration and massive spending on anti-terrorism efforts following the terrorist attacks on 9/11 including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Daniels announced his resignation on May 6, 2003 due to his desire to return to Indiana in order to run for Governor.

Mitch Daniels ran for governor under the slogan “My Man Mitch” a nickname he got from President George W. Bush. While campaigning, he toured the state in a recreational vehicle named RV-1, which was covered with signatures of his supporters as he traveled the state.

Daniels was elected Indiana’s 49th governor on November 2, 2004, defeating Democratic incumbent Governor Joe Kernan by a 53.2% to 45.5% margin. He assumed office on January 10, 2005 with the goal of setting the state on a sound financial footing through a series of fiscally conservative initiatives and making Indiana a more business friendly state. He started by implementing a series of reforms to the state government, targeting the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Child Services, and the Department of Correction. Daniels made Indiana the first “Rust Belt” state to ban mandatory union fees with his “Right to Work” legislation. He created the largest school-choice program for low-income parents in the country. He signed a law cutting off public funds to Planned Parenthood because it provided abortions. He ended decades of debate by getting the state to Daylight Savings Time (DST). He pushed for the entire state to be on in the Central Time Zone but the General Assembly could not come to an agreement. In the end, the entire state adopted (DST) and stayed on the Eastern Time Zone with the exception of the northwestern and southwestern corners of the state, which stayed in the Central Time Zone. Daniels motives for tackling this issue was to make Indiana a more business friendly state. The combination of different time zones and some areas adopting (DST) and some not, made it very confusing for outside business to conduct business with Indiana businesses.

To fund the two billion dollars needed for “Major Moves,” his ten-year plan to build and fix Indiana roads, Daniels leased the Indiana Toll Road, the 157-mile Indiana East West Toll Road that directly connects the Chicago Skyway to the Ohio Turnpike, to a joint private venture. The lease was set to run through the 2081. The private partners would manage operating the road and receive the tolls paid by the motorists, but the road would remain owned by the state.

Although some of his budgetary and cost cutting measures drew fire from opponents and his constitutes alike, he lead the state to its first balanced budget in eight years. He turned a nearly $800 million deficit into an annual surplus into surplus of $370 million a year. Working with a Republican state legislature, he cut expenditures 250 million. He reduced the state’s debt by 40 percent and left the state with reserve funds to almost 15 percent of annual spending and its first AAA credit rating. Due in large part to his reputation as a fiscal conservative and record on political form, national media began speculating about his possible candidacy for president as early as 2010. In late 2011, he began to receive large volumes of letters and emails from people around the country urging him to run for the Republican nomination for president. He announced on May 21, 2012 that we would not seek the nomination due to the loss of privacy of his family if he were to become a candidate.

On June 21, 2012, the Purdue University Board of Trustees elected Daniels to be the 12th President of the University. This move was controversial seeing that Daniels appointed eight of the twelve board members. Critics claimed this was a conflict of interest but the findings of a state investigation released in October 2012 found that the circumstances did not violate the Indiana Code of Ethics. His tenure as President of Purdue started on January 14, the same as his last day as Governor of Indiana. His signature issue as President has been to address the rising cost of higher education. He has done this through a series of austerity measures and through tuition freezes. He froze tuition in his first full year as president, something he has extended every year since. Prior to this, tuition had risen every year since 1976.

Daniels author three books: Notes from the Road: 16 Months of Towns, Tales and Tenderloins, 2004; Keeping the Republic: Saving America by Trusting Americans, 2011; Aiming Higher: Words That Changed a State, 2012. For a more complete lists of Daniels awards, honorary degrees, commencement addresses, corporate and non-profit boards, and article publications, see his CV page on the Purdue University website

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

John Dean scrapbook page and Purdue diploma

 Collection — Box: Communal Collections 49, Placement: 03
Identifier: MSA 317
Scope and Contents The collection consists of John I. Dean's 1940 Purdue University diploma, and one scrapbook page belonging to Major Dean. The front page is titled "All Purdue Men," Lubbock Army Flying School, Lubbock Texas, May 1943. The scrapbook second page (or back page) is titled: "My Advanced Flying School Instructor and Students, Lubbock Texas, June 1943." Men identified in the photo are: L-R (standing) Bill Brucker, Al Edes, Burt Walkup (The Instructor), Me [John Irwin Dean], Paul Cooper. L-R...
Dates: 1940 - 1943

Purdue Honorary Doctorates records

 Collection — Box: Communal Collections 65, Placement: 12, Folder: 1
Identifier: UA 169
Scope and Contents The records are a compilation of all individuals that received honorary doctorates from Purdue between 1888 and 2013. The list contains the date and discipline the degrees which were awarded. Famous honorary doctorates include Neil Armstrong, Eugene Cernan, Mitch Daniels, A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., and Darlene Clark Hine.
Dates: 1888 - 2013

Purdue Alumni Association records, addition 04

 Unprocessed — Box: 1
Identifier: 2023-088