Joe Donnelly looks past Richard Lugar to Richard Mourdock

May 5, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS — Rep. Joe Donnelly thinks he already knows who his general election opponent is.

And it’s not Dick Lugar.

The presumptive Democratic nominee for Senate devoted much of his speech at the party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner Friday night to laying out a contrast with the ascending Richard Mourdock, the two-term state treasurer on the cusp of ending Lugar’s political career.

Donnelly never mentioned Lugar during his address to the 1,200 Democrats gathered inside a ballroom at the J.W. Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. But he directed plenty of fire at Mourdock.

He laced into the insurgent Republican Senate candidate for opposing the federal bailout package that rescued the flailing Chrysler auto company — previewing a key argument he’ll launch if Mourdock upsets Lugar in Tuesday’s primary.

In May 2009, Mourdock became the country’s only government official to challenge the assistance package in court. It was a risky political decision that earned Mourdock national notoriety and instant credibility with the burgeoning tea party movement.

Yet it’s clear Democrats see it as a damaging vulnerability.

“It was forced by Richard Mourdock, who wouldn’t stand up for Hoosier workers,” Donnelly said, referring to Mourdock’s lawsuit that was ultimately unsuccessful.

Donnelly also took aim at Mourdock for blaming bipartisanship for “taking us to the brink of bankruptcy.”

“Richard Mourdock has said he is opposed to bipartisanship. I am the fifth of five kids. As the fifth of five kids, if you are not bipartisan, you do not eat at night,” Donnelly said to laughs.

“This country works best when we work together as a family. When we go to Washington, not just as Democrats, or Republicans but as Americans who are committed to making our country a stronger and better place. And that’s what we’re going to talk about throughout this Senate campaign. Who will fight for you? Who will fight for your job? Who will fight for your future? These are the basics. Have a good job. Take care of your family. Send your kids to a good school. Retire with dignity. We stand for those things. Richard Mourdock does not,” Donnelly argued.

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