The Campaign Spot

Nobody Likes a Sore Lugar

From the Wednesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

There Are Winners and There Are Lugars

Boy, Sen. Richard Lugar is just begging for a Tea Party challenge, huh? At this point, the only way his strategy makes sense is that he’s hoping to enrage every Tea Partier in the state of Indiana to the point where they all decide simultaneously to run against him, and he wins the primary against a splintered and fractured field.

The latest: “Among other criticisms, Tea Party activists have taken Lugar to task for supporting the new START nuclear arms treaty with Russia, claiming the U.S. is giving up too much and Russia is not giving up enough. ‘I’ve been working systematically for 20 years going to Russia trying to help direct a situation in which we’re taking warheads off of missiles every day, destroying missiles that were aimed at us; destroying submarines that carried missiles up and down our coast,’ said Lugar. ‘I’ve got to say “Get real.” I hear Tea Party or other people talking about they were against START. I said “Well, now, hang on here.”’ Lugar continued, ‘If you want to get into START, let’s talk about it, but realistically as Americans, not as some Republican renegade. [I’m] trying to take warheads of Russia [out of circulation] so they won’t hit Indiana.’

“The senator was also ready with a retort for those who’ve laid into him for confirming President Obama’s Supreme Court nominees. Lugar said he looks at a nominee’s character and professional qualifications in order to avoid creating a polarizing atmosphere. ‘I hope people sort of understand that because otherwise we polarize the Supreme Court business to a point that conservative justices offered by a conservative Republican president–who’ll be elected at some point–are going to have trouble,’ said Lugar.”

Er, Senator, do you remember the votes for John Roberts and Samuel Alito? More than half the Democratic caucus voted to filibuster Alito. Almost half the Democrats voted against Roberts and almost all of them voted against Alito, two sterling nominees. We’re already there, senator.

Late Tuesday night, Sal Russo, the chief strategist for the Express, told National Review Online that activists are “disappointed” by Lugar’s “hostile” attitude. “It’s not helpful for him, it’s not helpful for the movement,” he says.

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