Battle Royale: Mourdock vs. Lugar – Allen County Lincoln Day Dinner
The Allen County Lincoln Day Dinner was billed as an event where the attendees would get to hear Senator Lugar, and State Treasurer Mourdock speak on why they would be best the candidate for the Republican ticket in this year’s US Senate race. Expectations were high and the battle lines were clearly drawn. There was anticipation of fireworks and great political theater. What the nearly 500 attendees got was two candidates that were very gentlemanly toward each other, and speeches that discussed pertinent topics and issues.
Before I proceed I would like to issue a disclaimer. I have personally supported Mourdock for some time. While this is the case, I will try to present things fairly in this post and provide commentary as free of bias as possible. Any opinions expressed are solely my own.
The emcee for the event was Congressman Marlin Stutzman. He was in charge of introducing both of the candidates and handling transitions. He was effective in this and even had a few jokes that sparked some laughs. He first introduced Senator Lugar to speak. Senator Lugar started his speech by discussing farming and agriculture in general. He stated that he remembered his father having to deal with FDR and his New Deal policies, that placed great restrictions on the Lugar family farm. He pivoted this into his work on the Senate Ag Committee and the legislation that he worked to get passed in the 1980′s. Next he talked about nuclear proliferation and how he has worked to eliminate nuclear weapons around the world. He discussed a visit to Russia where he toured a deactivated nuclear missile silo, and how those weapons were aimed at America. He didn’t discuss who went on that tour with him. It was a then junior Senator from Illinois. One mistake he did make is he stated that the former Soviet Union targeted the air strip in Fort Wayne with nuclear weapons. The airstrip was not the target. The targets were Raytheon and ITT which were defense contractors. He continued to discuss nuclear weapons and ended his speech by asking for everyone’s support in the primary.
Next, Congressman Stutzman introduced State Treasurer Mourdock. Richard Mourdock started off his speech by thanking Senator Lugar for his service. This continued for a few minutes before he transitioned into discussing various issues. One line that he has repeated often was that bipartisanship has lead us to the verge of bankruptcy. The point being that bipartisanship will not solve our problems, but that standing on principle will. He then discussed the Chrysler bankruptcy situation and why he did what he did. He ended his speech by making an analogy to the Titanic. I’m paraphrasing, but he stated the Titanic was deemed unsinkable. It was the largest boat of it’s day, and it had a crew that was very experienced that had made numerous transatlantic voyages. He then stated that America is the greatest nation the world has ever seen, but we are in troubled waters. There are several icebergs in front of us, and we have an experienced crew that thinks we can get through it. He then stated that if we don’t address our economic issues with new and bold ideas we could sink. He then closed by thanking everyone and asking for their support.
Now it’s time for the commentary and opinion. Senator Lugar made numerous references to the past. He even made a Wendell Wilkie reference. Yes, that Wendell Willkie, Hoosier native and Republican nominee for President in 1940. He tried to highlight his record with his speech. He ended up showing how long he had been in office. I talked with numerous people afterwards, and the central theme seemed to be Lugar was showing his age. The comments about Mourdock were different. People were critical of the amount of time he spent praising and thanking Senator Lugar. However, they were also impressed with what he had to say and his knowledge on the issues. The sentiment was he came across as refreshing and optimistic. I talked with one individual that stated they were leaning Lugar, but after hearing both speak, they had changed their mind and will vote for Mourdock. Overall, I believe this race is close, but that Mourdock has momentum. In one week we will find out the results.