FORT WAYNE – State Treasurer Richard Mourdock has taken a tag-team approach to his bid for a U.S. Senate seat.
Mourdock has campaigned at the side of a Republican congressman from Indiana three times in the past two weeks.
He had news conferences with Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, on Thursday in Fort Wayne, with Rep. Todd Rokita, R-4th, on Monday in Indianapolis and with Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., on June 1 in Churubusco.
At every stop, the Republicans called for the repeal of President Obamas health care law, which Mourdock said Thursday will be the dominant theme of his campaign.
Mourdocks rivals – Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., in the GOP primary election and Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-2nd, in the general election – have portrayed him as an unbending right-wing extremist. By having these joint appearances, are Republicans trying to present Mourdock as a more mainstream candidate?
The reason Im glad to stand shoulder to shoulder with the current congressmen isnt to reflect that I can work with Republicans, its to make a point that the United States Senate, controlled by Republicans, will be able to work with the majority in the House, Mourdock said at Allen County Republican Party Headquarters.
Democrats enjoy a 53-47 edge in the Senate, but 33 of the chambers seats are up for election this year. The GOP is expected to retain its majority in the House in the Nov. 6 election.
Stutzman said about Mourdock: He has never been an extremist. He is a mainstream conservative Republican. He was a conservative Republican before the tea party was even around, and he was tea party before it was even cool.
Elizabeth Shappell, communications director for Donnelly, said later in an email: Just this week, Richard Mourdock told a paper in southern Indiana that he thinks employers should have the right not to cover cancer treatment. This, in addition to the fact that he had questioned the constitutionality of Social Security and Medicare, demonstrates Mourdocks extreme, TEA Party ideas that are bad for Indiana.
Mourdock said he favors legislation that would repeal the Affordable Care Act, which Donnelly supported; expand health savings accounts; let taxpayers deduct all of their health care costs, including insurance premiums; and let health insurance companies cross state lines.
He praised the decision of private insurer UnitedHealthcare to offer elements of the health care law regardless of whether the Supreme Court finds the law unconstitutional.
Its the private sector that is delivering a better answer than the government could ever deliver, Mourdock said.
Stutzman said: Republicans know there are problems with our health care system. But to enlarge government to fix the problem is not the answer.
Stutzman, who is in his first term, is being challenged by Democrat Kevin Boyd of Fort Wayne in the general election. Boyd spent Thursday at Neighborhood Food Network, helping pack boxes of food collected by mail carriers for distribution to pantries. He was among volunteers from the Democratic Partys state convention this weekend at Grand Wayne Center.
The Affordable Care Act has done a lot of good things, Boyd said, mentioning mandated coverage for people with pre-existing health conditions and allowing adults younger than 26 to remain on their parents insurance plans.
There is room to go to make it better, to make it more affordable, but I think it is a step in the right direction, he said about the law.