SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Gov.-elect Mike Pence pledged to work with both parties to improve Indiana's economy but sidestepped potential political minefields as he hit the road Thursday for a two-day trip to thank supporters who helped him win the governor's office.
Pence's first stop was at the Top Notch Restaurant in South Bend, where he met with Republican supporters in a back room before greeting diners. He also planned stops in Fort Wayne, Evansville and Terre Haute later Thursday and Friday.
The stops were a rare public appearance for Pence, who has spent the month since the election largely out of the public eye as he builds his cabinet and focuses on the transition from Gov. Mitch Daniels' administration to his.
He said the two-day swing was designed to say thanks.
"I'm here to pay a debt of gratitude," Pence said. "My family has been humbled and amazed at the opportunity that we've been afforded."
Pence won the election with slightly less than 50 percent of the vote, making him the first Indiana governor in nearly a century to win the office without support of a majority of voters. Even though Republicans hold supermajorities in the state Senate and House of Representatives, Pence said he will try to work with Democrats to get things done.
Pence avoided reporters' questions about how he would handle social issues such as a ban on gay marriage if they come up in the legislative session that begins in January, stressing that that the job creation he campaigned on as part of his "road map" for Indiana is his priority.
"The Legislature will have agenda items they want to consider. We'll take them one at a time. But our focus is going to be on bringing our road map to the Legislature and to the people of Indiana," he said.