INDIANAPOLIS – Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and his primary-election opponent, Richard Mourdock, dressed alike for their debate Wednesday: navy suits, blue shirts, red ties with white spots, American flag lapel pins.
Many of their answers were the same, too.
Each called for relaxing government regulations on businesses, repealing President Obama's health care law and gradually increasing the age for Social Security benefits.
At one point, Mourdock, the second-term state treasurer, said he favors freezing Medicaid spending for 10 years and turning it into a block-grant program for states. Medicare, he said, should be offered to those younger than 55 as tax-deductible health savings accounts, and health insurance providers should be allowed to cross state lines.
"I am in general agreement with my friend on points he has made," Lugar said about Mourdock's take on Medicaid and Medicare.
At another point, Lugar, the six-term incumbent, said the federal government should not have a role in reproductive services.
"I think I'll do a ditto," Mourdock said.
In his closing comments, Mourdock said, "As you've heard tonight, we have differences."
Not many. Unlike the almost daily accusations and rebuttals between their campaigns, Mourdock and Lugar were mostly on the same page Wednesday during their only debate in advance of the May 8 Republican primary election.
They did part ways on whether the addition of ethanol increases the price of gasoline – Mourdock said it does, while Lugar contended it reduces the price while helping Hoosier corn growers.
And they differed in their responses to whether Russia is a U.S. friend or foe.
"Russia is neither friend nor foe; it is an important country with whom we have to deal," Lugar said. "I'd say we have come a long way since the Cold War."
"I think they are more foe than friend," Mourdock said, accusing Russia of propping up the governments of Iran and Syria and continuing to occupy the former Soviet satellite Georgia.