By TOM LoBIANCO
The Associated Press
Mike Pence became Indiana’s 50th governor on Monday, taking the oath in subfreezing conditions on the Bible Benjamin Harrison used when he was sworn-in as president in 1889.
The six-term Republican congressman from Columbus used his inaugural address from a Statehouse balcony in front of a crowd of supporters and state officials to call upon all residents to help better the state.
“Each of us has a role to play. Each of us has a torch to light,” Pence said. “Whatever it is you can do, do. Improve yourself and you will improve your state. Invest in Indiana with your time and talent. Tell Indiana’s story. If you have a job, work at it as never before. If you serve the people, serve with all your heart. If you can build a business, do. If you can start a business, try.”
Pence credited outgoing Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels for leaving the state in good condition after his eight years in the state’s top office. But Pence said state government must remain bold because many families and businesses are struggling to get by.
Pence followed Daniels it taking the oath on Harrison’s inaugural Bible. He was the only president in U.S. history to be living in Indiana at the time he was sworn-in.
Pence told the crowd of about 1,500 people that he also wanted to give parents more choices in the education of their children and seek to strengthen institutions that nurture the family.
He said he wants Indiana to “become a torch of opportunity and hope” that inspires the nation.
Pence and his wife, Karen, started their day at a breakfast gathering of campaign supporters after a weekend of activities that included an inaugural ball Saturday night at the Indiana Convention Center attended by about 1,800 people.
Pence defeated Democrat John Gregg in November after a campaign that focused largely on jobs and education. He has said improving the economy and bringing more jobs to the state are his top priorities.
Also being sworn into office were new Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann and re-elected Republican Attorney General Greg Zoeller. New Democratic state schools superintendent Glenda Ritz plans her own formal ceremony at the Statehouse on Saturday.
Pence was expected to meet Monday afternoon with Republican and Democratic leaders of the General Assembly. He is scheduled to give his first State of the State address before legislators on Jan. 22.
Pence and his wife plan to live in the governor’s residence on the north side of Indianapolis, which Daniels and wife Cheri never occupied.
Daniels is taking over as the new president of Purdue University.