Mitch Daniels once thought his arrest for marijuana possession as a college student 41 years ago would ruin his chances of holding elective office. That turned out not to be true. Now in his second term as Indiana's governor
, he may be on the brink of a campaign for president
His recent candor on the issue may have helped him shed any political baggage still associated with drug use. "I don't make excuses for anything. Justice was served," Daniels, a Republican, told the Daily Princetonian
in a recent interview. "I had used marijuana and I was fined for that -- and that was appropriate."
Daniels, 61, was arrested in May 1970 when police found marijuana, LSD and unauthorized prescription drugs in a dorm room he shared with two other students. He was later fined $350 for "maintaining a common nuisance." One of his roommates told the Princetonian that a former resident of the room was responsible for drugs "worse than pot" that were found.
Daniels, who in appearance could still pass for an aging choir boy, has addressed the incident before. In 1988, he told the campus newspaper he feared after the bust that "any goals I might have had for competing for public office were shot." And in a 1989 opinion piece in the Washington Post, he called the embarrassing episode an "unfortunate confluence of my wild oats period and America's libertine apogee." Marijuana, he said, was as easy to obtain as beer and "for a time, I was a carefree consumer of both."
That was then. Daniels was all business in a speech at a Republican dinner in Cincinnati Wednesday night. Addressing the labor disputes in his state, Ohio and Wisconsin, he called public worker unions the "privileged elite" and allowed that there "may have been a time when government employees needed protection and needed reform, but that was a long time ago."
Public jobs and pay have grown while "private sectors salaries are shrinking," he said, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer
. "It's time to interrupt that loop in the public interest."
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