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Foes split on need for bipartisanship

Mourdock: Middle ground often not the aim


– U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock elaborated on his disdain for bipartisanship during a local campaign appearance Wednesday.

Republican Mourdock said his party believes in a smaller government, lower taxes and fewer regulations to spur economic growth, and he insisted that Democrats favor growing the government, raising taxes and expanding regulations.

“Find the bipartisanship between those two positions,” the state treasurer told a meeting of the Fort Wayne Business Forum at Fort Wayne Country Club. “How do you compromise between those two positions?”

He contended that Congress lacks enough members with the resolve to drastically reduce the $1.3 trillion federal budget deficit and the $16 trillion national debt.

“We can’t do it in one election. It’s simply not possible,” Mourdock told about 50 people at the meeting.

Democrats control the Senate 53-47, and Republicans have a comfortable majority in the House. Mourdock’s race against Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-2nd, is considered among at least eight seemingly close contests that will determine which party commands the Senate.

Donnelly, who campaigned Wednesday in Decatur, has constantly criticized Mourdock as being inflexible. When asked about Mourdock’s comments at the Wednesday luncheon, Donnelly campaign aide Elizabeth Shappell said in an email that Mourdock’s views “will only lead to more partisan gridlock and less getting things done. Joe has worked and will continue to work with members of both parties because he thinks no party has it right 100 percent of the time.”

Donnelly has cited as an example his work with congressional Republicans from Indiana to keep 20 combat jets at Fort Wayne’s Air National Guard base after the Air Force proposed replacing them with half as many surveillance planes.

Mourdock said in an interview Wednesday that he supports retaining the fighter wing at the local base.

“We’ve gotta maintain our national security,” he said. “And certainly a group of A-10s out there have proven themselves in the Middle East over the last few years, and it’s something we have to make sure we’re maintaining our capability in.”

Mourdock did not mention Donnelly during his speech to the Business Forum. Before the start of a question-and-answer period, a member of the organization instructed The Journal Gazette to leave the room, saying it was a private meeting.

A campaign aide accompanying Mourdock later apologized to The Journal Gazette.

The Mourdock campaign had notified the newspaper about his appearance in advance of the meeting.

Both the Mourdock and Donnelly campaigns announced results of internal polls conducted this week. Each campaign said its candidate is ahead of the other heading into Tuesday’s election.