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Lugar reiterates no Mourdock support

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TOM LoBIANCO,

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Retiring U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar reiterated Wednesday that he will not campaign for Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock after a mailer from a longtime conservative opponent claimed Lugar’s “torch has been passed” to the tea-party hero who beat him in the primary.

The mailer comes as both Mourdock and Democrat Joe Donnelly fight desperately for the “Lugar Republicans,” or moderate voters, who appear likely to swing Indiana’s tight Senate battle.

Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher said Wednesday the piece was “clearly unauthorized” and said Lugar’s refusal to campaign for Mourdock has not changed.

“During the primary, Mourdock and his supporters perpetuated misleading statements about Sen. Lugar. Unfortunately that has continued with this mailer funded by a committee that spent over $100,000 to defeat Sen. Lugar. It was clearly unauthorized and done without consultation with us,” Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher said in a statement.

The mailer sent by conservative lawyer Jim Bopp’s USA Super PAC to Hoosiers this week claims “Indiana’s torch has been passed from one great leader to another” on the front and on the back says, “Senator Richard Lugar faithfully served Indiana for 36 years. He’s now looking to a new leader to keep Indiana moving forward.”

Bopp, who crafted the idea of super PACs last year as a member of the Republican National Committee, pointed out that Lugar has said he will vote for Mourdock in November and wants Republicans to have a majority in the U.S. Senate.

“I know that there are hard feelings that may not have healed from the primary, but it is incumbent on Republicans to make sure that Congressman Donnelly is not allowed to cynically exploit the situation,” Bopp said in a statement.

Lugar issued two statements the night of his primary loss to Mourdock. One statement said he would gladly support Mourdock as the victor in the race, but the second excoriated Mourdock as being unwilling to compromise. Since then, Mourdock has continued to try and win Lugar’s mantle in the general election — claiming in Monday’s debate that he had been endorsed by the senator, but Lugar has kept him at arms’ length throughout the campaign.

Mourdock said Wednesday he’s not responsible for messages sent by outside groups like Bopp’s, but then he praised Lugar.

“Sen. Lugar is a great American, he is a great Hoosier. He has earned the right to respond in any way he wants to and any way he chooses to,” Mourdock said Wednesday during a press conference with Arizona Sen. John McCain and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. McCain quickly changed the subject to President Barack Obama’s answer about Libya in Tuesday’s presidential debate.

Lugar also has had nothing to say for Democrat Joe Donnelly. Indiana Democrats fueled stories about Lugar not owning a home in Indiana and voting from the Indianapolis house he sold in 1977, in a bizarre alliance with the state’s tea party activists and the Mourdock campaign heading into the primary.

Donnelly hit Mourdock in Monday’s debate for sending a fundraising letter after the primary that said Lugar “betrayed conservatives” during his time in Washington. Mourdock later blamed the wording on a campaign contractor and said he would not have used the term “betrayed.”

 

Posted 10/18/2012