NR Digital

The Last of Lugar?

by John J. Miller

A conservative Indianan prepares to take on the president’s favorite Republican senator

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.”

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