Right out of the gate this morning, Senator Dick Lugar and state treasurer Richard Mourdock’s campaigns are exchanging blows in dueling press releases. Mourdock’s camp is responding to news, first reported by Politico’s Maggie Haberman, that the Young Guns Network, a political-advocacy group led by two former aides to Representative Eric Cantor, is encouraging independents and Democrats to vote for Lugar in Indiana’s open GOP primary on May 8.
“In yet another act of desperation to stem his precipitous drop in the polls, Lugar and his Washington establishment allies are now courting non-Republicans to vote in the GOP Primary on May 8th,” said Mourdock spokesman Chris Conner. “All of this activity to convince non-Republicans to participate in the Republican primary begs a simple question for Senator Lugar: Will he pledge to support the Republican nominee for Senate if it is not him?”
For the record, I asked Conner earlier if Mourdock would support the GOP nominee even if he didn’t win. Conner replied, “Yes. Richard will support the Republican ticket.” I posed the same question to Lugar’s spokesman, Andy Fisher, but didn’t hear back immediately.
The Lugar campaign, meanwhile, is hitting Mourdock for remarks he made before a local newspaper’s editorial board about cutting military spending. “There’s always going to be a lot of duplication,” Mourdock said. “We look today at the historical setup of Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard. There’s a lot of duplication and bureaucracy right there. In the 21st century is that necessary? I’m not sure that it is.”
In response, Lugar’s campaign is asking, “Which military branch would Mourdock cut?” You can watch the video below.
UPDATE: Fisher has responded to the question of whether Lugar will support Mourdock if the state treasurer wins the primary. In an e-mail to NRO, Fisher writes, “After Senator Lugar wins the primary, he will welcome Treasuer Mourdock’s support in winning the Indiana Senate seat, gaining Republican control of the U.S. Senate, retaining Republican control of the U.S. House, retaining Republican control of the Indiana state house and governor’s mansion, and defeat President Obama in the fall.”