Judging by his new TV and radio ads, Sen. Richard Lugar is running against President Obama and not primary-election challenger Richard Mourdock.
Lugar's campaign began airing spots statewide Tuesday touting his support of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and legislation he sponsored forcing President Obama to make a decision by Feb. 21 on whether the pipeline should be built.
The 30-second ads claim the pipeline, which would run from Canada to Texas, would create 20,000 jobs "almost immediately." The same number has been cited by pipeline owner TransCanada, but either doubted or disputed by pipeline critics, a Cornell University study and news media as being far too high. The State Department has said the project will create about 6,000 temporary construction and manufacturing jobs, and only hundreds of permanent jobs.
The ads also refer to Lugar's opposition to Obama "on stimulus, overregulation and every single Obamacare vote."
Both Mourdock, on his campaign website, and the Indiana Democratic Party challenged many of Lugar's claims. A statement from the Democratic Party included a January 2010 newspaper article reporting that Lugar had at the time supported Obama's positions in 68 percent of the senator's votes.
The Mourdock campaign and Democratic state Chairman Dan Parker each used the word "desperate" to describe Lugar's distancing himself from Obama.
Mourdock's campaign is also running ads this week on cable TV. They jab at Lugar's voting record on, among other things, Obama's appointments to the Supreme Court and increasing the national debt limit, concluding, "No wonder he's called Obama's favorite Republican."
Mourdock, the second-term state treasurer, will face Lugar in the May 8 Republican primary election. Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-2nd, seeks the Democratic nomination for Lugar's seat and has been endorsed by his party's leadership.