By
Melissa Harris Perry
updated 1/29/2013 10:57:22 AM ET 2013-01-29T15:57:22

Former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels sat down with host Melissa Harris-Perry for a one-on-one discussion about his position at Purdue University, and the role his fiscal conservatism still plays in his life.

Former two-term Indiana governor Mitch Daniels sat down with host Melissa Harris-Perry for a one-on-one discussion at Purdue University, and the role his fiscal conservatism still plays in his life.

Harris-Perry asked Daniels how he incorporates the political views that he formed as governor into his current role as president of the university. Daniels said that the fundamentals are the same, and that he is “trying to build a climate of opportunity” for his students the same way he did for new investments and growth throughout Indiana.

Just as he helped create incentives around child support, restricting those with back pay from licensing privileges and casino payouts, Daniels continues to use his authority to make these types of common-sense decisions. “I think we’ve got a need in this country to restore faith in government,” he said, noting that skepticism for big government can easily turn into contempt for all government, which would hinder fair policy making such as what he was involved in.

When asked about his view on the importance of budgets, Daniels had an unclouded response. “It’s a mistake to fixate on budgets,” Daniels said, explaining to Harris-Perry that the focus should instead be on prioritizing the reasons that funds are spent. “It’s never about the money,” he explained.

Daniels also found it important to mention, “I don’t have a party or partisan view on these things.”

Rumors swirled about Daniels and his potential GOP presidential candidacy for the 2012 election, although he ultimately decided not to run. He opted to end his political tenure after serving eight years as governor of Indiana, and chose higher education administration instead.

“Why that choice?” Harris-Perry asked on his decision to become Purdue’s president. Among several reasons, his personal life was a prime factor.

“My family… five women and me—and they are a very powerful caucus,” he said, explaining that his family had the final say in the matter. “The women’s caucus has a veto and there’s no override provision.”

Daniels also mentioned that “it’s a vicious nasty game the way it’s played these days,” in reference to running for president of the United States. He was not eager to endure that unattractive side of the profession. In noting the difference in his two options, he chuckled, “this Purdue opportunity…I got a better job!”

Video: Mitch Daniels: GOP’s one that got away?

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