Political Notebook


GOP answers Lincoln ‘flying’ story

The Indiana Republican Party last week wasted no time responding to a story about how Abraham Lincoln, as a member of the Illinois House, once jumped out a window to block a bill.

The Journal Gazette reported that two House Democrats, who walked out of the Statehouse nearly three weeks ago, took a field trip to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill., to research the incident.

Museum researchers told Rep. Win Moses, D-Fort Wayne, and Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, that Democrats in charge of the Illinois House in 1840 were trying to force the Illinois State Bank out of business. Lincoln, a member of the Whig Party at the time, objected, and he and members of his party tried to leave the Illinois chambers to buy time.

The Capitol’s doors were locked, so the lanky Lincoln jumped out a window in an effort to deny the Illinois House a quorum. A few colleagues followed, and they were known for about a decade as the “flyers.”

The day the story appeared in The Journal Gazette, the Republican Party announced there is more to the story.

Contrary to many reports, Abraham Lincoln’s attempt to prevent a quorum failed.

The Illinois State Register in December 1840 reported, “This gymnastic performance of Mr. Lincoln and his flying brethren did not occur until after they had voted.” The vote, in which Mr. Lincoln cast a nay, certified the quorum as the necessary two-thirds were present.

Second, the GOP contends Lincoln came to regret his impulsive decision to jump out of a first-story window.

In “The Life of Abraham Lincoln,” author Ward Hill Lamon quotes Joseph Gillespie, one of the other jumpers, as saying, “I think Mr. Lincoln always regretted that he entered into that arrangement.”

What was that?

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., caused a commotion last week when he indicated he would vote against a House bill to cut federal spending and then later said he would vote for it.

Lugar said he misunderstood a reporter’s question as he was heading to lunch Tuesday with other Republican senators.

The Hill newspaper first reported online Tuesday that Lugar said he would oppose the House measure to cut $61 billion in appropriations through Sept. 30. In a later story that day, the Hill reported Lugar “has withdrawn his stated opposition to House-passed spending cuts.”

State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who plans to challenge Lugar in the 2012 Republican primary election, issued a statement accusing Lugar of a “flip-flop.”

“It’s troubling that Senator Lugar seems confused about his own position on this important issue,” Mourdock said.

He claimed Lugar was “undercutting the House Republicans only to reverse himself within minutes when the potential consequences sunk in.”

Lugar insisted he did not change his mind.

“I couldn’t figure out what the question was, I simply did not understand what everyone was all shouting and jumping around about,” he told the Hill about the number of reporters following him.

In the same story, he said, “I’m sorry if I misled people.”

On Wednesday, he voted in favor of the House proposal. That bill, and a Senate version that would have cut far less money, were both defeated in the Senate.

GOP posturing

Fort Wayne’s three main Republican mayoral contenders were quiet for most of last week until they all jostled for attention on Thursday.

Within a few hours Wednesday morning, Liz Brown, Eric Doden and Paula Hughes all announced news conferences – starting within an hour of one another Thursday.

While Hughes was the last to announce her event – she made sure to be the first to respond to her opponents.

Her campaign sent a release Thursday morning attacking Brown’s changing position on how to use Fort Wayne’s electric utility settlement money. The critical release was issued at 10:25 a.m., about 90 minutes before Brown was scheduled to announce her formal plans for how to use the money – and 50 minutes before Hughes’ scheduled event.

Hughes’ release only critiqued Brown and did not even mention Doden, possibly signaling which candidate Hughes views as her main rival in the race.

But seriously, folks

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, is getting a tad frustrated with the three-week boycott House Democrats have embarked on to halt work in the chamber.

Since Feb. 22, the majority of Democratic members have been spending their days at an Urbana, Ill., hotel

“There’s a point where I think the taxpayers need to drive over there, grab their folks and bring them back,” Bosma said before immediately cautioning against his advice.

“Just kidding. If Cousin Eddie is out there, please don’t take my instructions,” he said, referring to a famous scene in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” where Cousin Eddie kidnaps Clark Griswold’s boss.

I-69, not rail

At a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing Thursday, Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., asked Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to list his priorities at a time of spending cuts.

LaHood touted high-speed rail as “a priority for the administration. It’s the president’s signature transportation program.”

Coats wasn’t sold.

“High-speed rail makes sense in some very dense corridor areas,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense in the middle of America.

“High-speed rail between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne would be a waste of money because you can get in the car and drive there in two hours. The road is not crowded,” Coats told LaHood.

Journal Gazette Washington Editor Brian Francisco contributed to this column.

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