INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The three candidates for U.S. Senate met in a televised debate Monday night. From the outset Democrat Joe Donnelly and Republican Richard Mourdock were at odds.
Donnelly made blatant appeals to the Lugar Republicans who may decide this race calling Dick Lugar, the man Mourdock defeated in the May primary, an American hero.
"You sent out a letter about Senator Lugar where you said he betrayed conservatives," said Donnelly, "and the word betrayed… you can disagree, but betrayed?"
The reference was to a campaign mailer following the primary that Mourdock says he regrets.
"To Senator Lugar, he is a good honorable man," said Mourdock, "and we appreciate the fact that he said he will support us as we go forward."
Mourdock did all he could to connect Donnelly to the President.
“You’ve again endorsed President Obama," Mourdock said. "His policies have not worked. I thought they were going to have a balloon drop and a confetti drop when they announced 7.8 percent unemployment the other day."
That led Donnelly to point to work he did with Senator Lugar to save auto companies. "I said I would vote for the President because he stood with those workers then as well," he said. "But I am just as happy to work with a Governor Romney."
Afterward both candidates talked about how Lugar Republicans will react.
"They realize they heard Congressman Donnelly today double down on his support for Barack Obama," said Mourdock.
"He couldn't name one Democrat he could work with and this is the second time that that's happened," said Donnelly, "and you know I'm stunned by it."
Libertarian Andy Horning served mostly as a buffer. At one point he begged voters to "vote for me just one time."
Following the debate Mourdock declined to grade his performance, while the Donnelly campaign declared victory in a news release. Donnelly didn't go that far himself saying only that the new release will make it easier to go back to the office.
It may be Election Day before we know which candidate did a better job of getting through to those Lugar Republicans.
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