Lugar, Mourdock bury hatchet


Senator Richard Lugar
Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar and the man who unseated him in a bitter Republican primary, Richard Mourdock, have apparently buried the hatchet.

In an act rife with symbolism, Lugar graciously introduced Mourdock — the tea party-backed state treasurer who ended Lugar’s four-decade reign in the Senate — during a closed-door meeting of Senate Republicans on Tuesday.

Their May primary contest was contentious, with Mourdock painting the two-time Foreign Relations Committee chairman as a Washington insider who had lost touch with his native Hoosier State (Lugar and his wife sold their Indianapolis home and moved to the Washington, D.C. area in 1977).

But upon learning Mourdock would be dropping by Tuesday’s GOP luncheon, Lugar asked National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn if he could personally introduce Mourdock. Mourdock repaid the favor, praising the 80-year-old Lugar’s lifetime of public service to Indiana and the country.

“My own comments on the night of the election were that I asked Hoosiers to support Treasurer Mourdock,” Lugar told POLITICO in a brief interview after the lunch. “I indicated I would be very pleased to have the opportunity to introduce him.”

While it’s customary for Senate leaders to invite newly-nominated candidates to attend weekly policy lunches, the act signified that the GOP is unified behind Mourdock as he heads into the November general election against Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly.

During the lunch in the Senate’s Lyndon B. Johnson room, Mourdock was seated between Lugar and Indiana’s other senator, Republican Dan Coats. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus sat on the other side of Lugar.

Lugar was “incredibly, incredibly gracious,” Mourdock told reporters upon leaving the lunch.

“As I said to [the senators] in my response, those of us from Indiana often wonder what it means to be a Hoosier, what does that word mean?” Mourdock said.

“And I’ve come to think that being a Hoosier means you always have great hospitality, you have an enormity of grace about you and you’re always looking to the future with a sense of optimism, and [Lugar] displayed all those things today.

“He’s a great Hoosier,” Mourdock added.

Coats said Tuesday’s display of Hoosier hospitality represented not only a symbolic but also a practical step forward for the party.

“It was a very important symbol of how we’ve come together to support a Republican running for office,” Coats told POLITICO. “I’ve gotten the sense that Senator Lugar has reached out to him in friendship, and Richard has acknowledged receipt of that, and I’m very pleased with what took place today.”