U.S. senatorial candidate Richard Mourdock, who is challenging six-term Sen. Richard Lugar, tells Newsmax.TV that he — unlike his incumbent opponent — believes senators should live in states they represent.
“He hasn’t lived in Indiana since 1977,” Mourdock complained in an exclusive interview on Thursday. “He does not maintain a home — nor an apartment here. He said that he maintains an address here — his own words ‘for political purposes.’”
Lugar — facing what is expected to be his first serious challenge in decades from the conservative Indiana State Treasurer — actually lives in the toney Washington, D.C. suburb of McLean, Va. due to a quirk in Indiana law that allows it.
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“I believe if you are going to represent a state you ought to be an inhabitant of that state. You ought to understand what’s going on,” Mourdock declared. “Yes, it means you ought to go to the county fairs. You ought to go to the Rotary Clubs. You ought to speak. You ought to listen. And because Mr. Lugar has been gone since 1977, I think he’s lost that vital connection, and I certainly think some of his statements lately have shown that.”
Anticipating a primary battle on May 8, Lugar has attempted to tap into major sources of campaign funding early — including the formation of two super PACs on his behalf — while adopting more conservative policy positions, taking his campaign to the Internet in every way possible, and going on the attack.
“We know a 36-year incumbent is going to do everything he can possibly do to try to muddy us up,” said Mourdock. “He’s already been on TV here in Indiana for almost three weeks putting out absolutely libelous ads and yet that’s part of the process.”
Mourdock said that this campaign hopes to raise $2.5 million. “We’re well on schedule to do that. We’ve got tremendous grassroots support and we’re looking towards victory on May 8.”
The winner of the GOP primary will face moderate Democrat Rep. Joe Donnelly in the general election.
Mourdock insists that Lugar’s record has been anything but conservative. He points to Lugar’s support of President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court picks of Sonia Sotomayor in 2009 and Elena Kagan in 2010 as well as Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s selection by President Bill Clinton in 1993.
“Probably the thing I hear about the most is that he voted for Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor — the first Republican to come out for one, the second to come out for the other — even before there were congressional hearings on them,” Mourdock explained. “He seems to think that advice and consent means simply rubber stamp — and that’s not good enough for a United States senator.”
Lugar also supported a new START treaty, which many conservatives saw as dangerous to U.S. security. “Most feel it’s weakened America’s position in the world,” according to Mourdock.
“Last but not least, he’s earned that nickname Barack Obama’s favorite senator by MSNBC because so frequently he carried the water for the administration,” the challenger added. “And people here in Indiana are tired of it.”
Noting Lugar’s apparent shift in recent months to more conservative positions, Mourdock said that he has observed a shift to the left overall. “It certainly shifted a great deal to the left over the last four years during the Obama administration,” he insisted.
“It’s kind of curious how now in the last six months it’s suddenly moved more and more to the right — with him trying to get back into the good graces of Indiana Republicans. You know, the issues that he has stood for are those that call for bigger government, for more expensive government. He’s refused to vote against reducing earmarks. He’s refused to even make small cuts in the budget.”
Unlike the federal government, Indiana enjoys good fiscal health, according to treasurer Mourdock. “We never went into the red during these incredible economic tough times that we’ve gone through and that’s because we live within our means. We don’t spend more than we take in,” he said. “People in Indiana want to see the federal government run the way we’ve been doing it in the Indiana State House.”
Indiana has an unusual law that allows taxpayers to benefit from a surplus of revenue and Mourdock wants to see a similar system adopted by the federal government. “It’s called the ATR — the Automatic Taxpayer Refund,” he said.
“As unlikely as that sounds, we’ve actually limited government so that if our coffers should fill to 10 percent in excess of the state’s budget for the following year, anything over that 10 percent gets refunded to the taxpayers automatically. In this very challenging tough time we’ve done so well we’re about to see those refunds kick in. I think it’s a wonderful plan that we need to start thinking about at the national level.”
Mourdock also said that Obamacare does not play well in Indiana.
“More and more Hoosiers recognize this is about individual choice. It’s about individual freedom. It’s about the loss of religious liberties at times,” he said. “So this conservative state — this is a very red state — is very upset with Obamacare and I’m certainly one who believes we need to repeal and replace.”
He also takes issue with Lugar’s recent assessment that the economy was strong. “I don’t think it’s strong at all. Most Hoosiers don’t think it is either,” he added.
Mourdock supports a change in the tax structure though not necessarily former GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan. “We have to change the tax code in this country from being a tax code that taxes the creation of wealth to taxing consumption,” Mourdock explained.
“Why is that important? Because last year, 47 percent of all American households paid nothing in income tax — zero. They don’t care how big government gets. They don’t care how much government costs. Every American has a stake in the game. Every American should have skin in the game financially. And it’s something we must move to enact as quickly as possible.”
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