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Local politics

  • Debate low on conflict
    Their neckties were about all that clashed Tuesday dur­ing a debate of the three congressional candidates in Indiana's 3rd District. Second-term Republican Rep.
  • Debate low on conflict
    Their neckties were about all that clashed Tuesday dur­ing a debate of the three congressional candidates in Indiana’s 3rd District.Second-term Republican Rep.
  • Stutzman challengers count on TV debate
    Two long-shot candidates for a seat in Congress say Tuesday’s televised debate offers the best chance for them to lure votes away from Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd.
Brian Francisco | The Journal Gazette
U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock speaks Wednesday at the Allen County Republican Party Headquarters accompanied by Sen. Dan Coats.

Mourdock campaign launches GOP slogan, Donnelly criticisms

The Indiana Republican Party’s “Right Track Tour” was thrown off schedule Wednesday by a wreck on Interstate 69 and Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

Senate candidate Richard Mourdock and Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., were a half-hour late for a rally at Allen County Republican Party Headquarters. They said their vehicle got stuck in traffic backed up by a crash along northbound I-69 between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne.

Mourdock and Coats were to have been joined by GOP Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and John Cornyn of Texas. But party officials said Portman stayed in Ohio to campaign for Romney. Cornyn, who had traveled with Mourdock and Coats, went straight to a private fundraising reception for Mourdock at a Fort Wayne home. Portman was expected to attend the fundraiser at some point.

State Treasurer Mourdock, Coats and state Republican Chairman Eric Holcomb launched the “Right Track Tour” with the slogan “More Jobs, Less Debt, Lower Taxes” printed on a mock interstate highway sign. Holcomb said the slogan will be used by Republican candidates for the last 40 days of the campaign.

As usual, Mourdock criticized his Democratic opponent, 2nd District Rep. Joe Donnelly, for supporting President Obama’s health care law and economic stimulus spending. Mourdock mentioned that Donnelly describes himself as a moderate but had confirmed in a published report Wednesday that he plans to vote for Obama.

“I don’t think there is much moderation there,” Mourdock said, adding that if Donnelly is elected to the Senate, he will “cancel the vote of Sen. Coats.”

The Indiana Democratic Party issued a statement calling Mourdock’s group of senators “adult supervision” for him. Elizabeth Shappell, communications director for Donnelly’s campaign, said in an email, “Richard Mourdock has rarely appeared in public or given the press the opportunity to speak with him without a Republican surrogate present.”

By himself, Mourdock took a few questions from the media on a Harrison Street sidewalk before departing for his fundraiser.

He said he is “feeling very good” that he will be elected despite polls and pundits suggesting he and Donnelly are running even.

“We have a tremendous grass-roots team, over 7,000 volunteers. I don’t see anything even close on the Democrat side” or for either party’s gubernatorial candidate, Mourdock said. “Campaigns are still about grass-roots turnout, and we’ve got the people who are going to make it happen.”

Coats said earlier that Republicans cannot win a majority in the 100-seat Senate – they are four seats shy – unless Mourdock is elected.

“We do not want to see an ever-encroaching federal government, dictating our rights or taking away our rights,” Coats said about the prospect of Democrats retaining control of the Senate and White House.