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Rival plays up Donnelly’s DNC absence

Indiana delegates to the Democratic National Convention heard Wednesday from the wife of their U.S. Senate candidate.

But Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-2nd, did not accompany her to Charlotte, N.C., choosing to spend the week in Indiana instead, according to his campaign.

Republican foe Richard Mourdock took note of Donnelly’s absence. Mourdock’s campaign referred to Donnelly as President Obama’s “trusty sidekick” but claimed he skipped the convention “in a clear attempt to distance himself from Obama and his failed policies.”

Elizabeth Shappell, communications director for Donnelly’s campaign, said in an email, “Joe decided not to go to the convention because he thought it was more important to spend his time here” in Indiana.

Mike Bynum, a convention delegate from Fort Wayne, said in a phone interview that Mourdock “is just reaching for straws because he has no game plan.”

Mourdock did not attend last week’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. The state treasurer and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney did campaign together Aug. 4 in Evansville.

Jill Donnelly, Democratic gubernatorial nominee John Gregg and former U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh spoke to Indiana delegates at a Wednesday breakfast meeting at their hotel, according to Bynum and Allen County delegate Herb Anderson.

Mourdock’s campaign launched a TV ad Wednesday in which the candidate says Obama and Joe Donnelly “had their chance, but they’ve only made things worse” in the past four years. And Club for Growth announced it will run an ad calling Donnelly a “typical Washington liberal” for supporting President George W. Bush’s aid to banks and Obama’s economic stimulus program and health care law.

The National Review reported Wednesday that Center Forward, a centrist public policy group, will release an ad today that criticizes Mourdock’s statements about Medicare and health insurance. “There’s radical, and then there’s Richard Mourdock,” a narrator says.