Indiana Republicans will pick a senate candidate today, either longtime incumbent Dick Lugar or tea-party favorite Richard Mourdock. Last summer, I wrote an NRODT feature on Mourdock — I don’t know if it was his first profile by a national publication, but it was certainly one of the first. Read it here. A taste:
When Barack Obama was running for president, there was one Republican besides George W. Bush whom he wouldn’t stop talking about. “Politics don’t have to divide us,” he said at his campaign kickoff in 2007. “I’ve worked with Republican senator Dick Lugar . . .” Obama dropped the name of the senior senator from Indiana during his first presidential debate with John McCain, and then again during their third debate: “If I’m interested in figuring out my foreign policy, I associate myself with my running mate, Joe Biden, or with Dick Lugar.” Obama even ran advertisements that showed him with Lugar.
To the surprise of many, the Hoosier State wound up giving its electoral votes to a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since 1964 and for only the second time since the Depression. “I saw those ads,” says Richard Mourdock, Indiana’s Republican treasurer. “My reaction was: You’ve got to be kidding me.” Mourdock assumed that they’d disappear in a day or two. “It was an implied endorsement. I thought Lugar would pick up the phone and ask for the ads to go off the air. That didn’t happen. You can make a case that Obama won our state’s eleven electoral votes because of those ads.” …
Lugar didn’t see fit to ask Obama to quit using his image in television ads. “I suppose it’s a free country,” he says. “I had no ability to expunge it.” Democrats were delighted that he didn’t even try. “If Lugar was really upset, he would have asked to have the ad removed,” says Kip Tew, who ran the Obama campaign in Indiana. “The effect of the ad was to give moderate Republicans a permission slip to vote for Obama.” As Democrats gloated, Indiana conservatives fumed.