[The Brazil Times nameplate] Fair ~ 71°F  
High: 74°F ~ Low: 50°F
Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Lugar struggles to paint tea party opponent

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sen. Richard Lugar
INDIANAPOLIS -- Timing is everything, especially in a political campaign. Come out negative too early and you can turn off voters. Wait too long to try to brand your opponent and you may find it hard to get your message across.

That seems to be the case with the campaign of six-term Sen. Richard Lugar, whose efforts to paint tea party-backed state Treasurer Richard Mourdock as "untrustworthy" last week had all the markings of a desperate attempt to toss anything and everything at Mourdock to see what might stick less than two weeks before the vote that could end Lugar's political career.

First came the Lugar campaign's cryptic promise of "critical" new information about Mourdock that would prove he wasn't a conservative. Then came the ballyhooed press conference at the Marott apartments in Indianapolis, where Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher and Lugar supporter Larry MacIntyre pointed to a 1992 candidate questionnaire on which Mourdock supported the "Fairness Doctrine" and declined to say whether he would sanction illegal immigrants.

They also rolled out a litany of previous complaints they have outlined in attack ads that have run across the state since March.

Even with a room packed with print and broadcast reporters, the alleged game-changer got little play beyond some tweets and blog posts. The reaction? Nothing to see here. Move along.

The campaign's effort to make a dent in Mourdock this close to the primary begs the question: Has Lugar waited too long to try to brand his opponent?

"I think it's on time because a lot of people are making their decision now," said Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher.

There's plenty of support for Fisher's theory that the most important battle is fought just before the election. The heaviest spending in this campaign has come in the final two weeks, with the two campaigns and outside interest groups supporting them laying out a combined $1.55 million for broadcast ads through May 8.

But the lack of attention paid to the Lugar announcement may illustrate the biggest challenge the senator faces: This race has never been about defining Mourdock. It's about Lugar, said former Indiana Democratic Party chairwoman Ann DeLaney.

"That was the shot heard round the block," DeLaney mocked, referring to the Lugar campaign's effort to paint Mourdock as untrustworthy last week.

Mourdock has already been successfully branded as well to the right of the 36-year incumbent, thanks to supporters who started firming up the public's image of the candidate early on.

Lugar's team was still deciding what to do with Mourdock in March when leaders from national tea party organizer FreedomWorks and Hoosiers for Conservative Senate, Indiana's tea party umbrella group, met during a training session in Westfield. The organizers urged their troops to begin telling Hoosiers about Mourdock before their opponents beat them to the punch.

As they departed the home of Hoosier for Conservative Senate Greg Fettig, they left behind the brochures tying Lugar to Obama and picked up the stack with a smiling shot of Mourdock. By that point, they had moved from the "Retire Lugar" message to the "Elect Mourdock" one.

Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock [Click to enlarge]
Meanwhile, 36 years of successful branding has labeled Lugar as a bipartisan operator with deep roots in Washington, a no-no among tea partyers and conservatives.

Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. If you feel that a comment is offensive, please Login or Create an account first, and then you will be able to flag a comment as objectionable. Please also note that those who post comments on thebraziltimes.com may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.

1976, your personal share of the public debt was approximately $2,600. Today, 35 years later, Mr. Lugar has not been able to curtail that. Now, your personal share of the public debt? Approximately $50,000. Six more years, what do you think it will be then? How many more supreme court appointments in the next 6 years. Be informed, then vote.

-- Posted by Conservative Dad on Mon, Apr 30, 2012, at 9:46 PM

Just realize that if Mourdock gets elected he will NOT be seated on all the committees that Lugar is currently on. I may not agree with all of Lugar's votes but as a registered Democrat I am not ashamed to say that I have voted for Lugar for a long time and feel that he has done a LOT of GOOD for Indiana.

-- Posted by indianamama on Tue, May 1, 2012, at 10:07 AM

Mr. Lugar has done many good things for our state. No one is more respectful of Mr. Lugar, than Mr. Mourdock. Where were you in 1976? It is time. Thank you for your service Mr. Lugar, now enjoy your retirement.

-- Posted by Conservative Dad on Tue, May 1, 2012, at 8:44 PM

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: