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Tea party looks for Mourdock win with final push

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Tea party advocates in Indiana who aced their first test by ousting U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar in May likely face a much tougher final exam Tuesday as they work to push Republican Richard Mourdock to victory.

Volunteers with Hoosiers for Conservative Senate lined an Indianapolis intersection Sunday, waving signs and cheering on cars that honked at them.

Drivers heading north on Keystone Avenue honked as they crossed into the battleground of Hamilton County, one of the "doughnut counties" ringing Indianapolis and populated with "Lugar Republicans" who are seen as a key voting bloc. A handful of drivers stopped at the light rolled down their windows and booed at the group or yelled "Obama!"

Hoosiers for Conservative Senate had knocked on 200,000 doors and distributed 60,000 yard signs, according to co-founder Greg Fettig. The group is working with FreedomWorks for America, a national tea party group run by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey.

The race between Mourdock and Democrat Joe Donnelly had been close since May, when Mourdock and his tea party backers upset U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar by more than 20 points in the Republican primary. That appeared to change, however, after Mourdock said in a debate that  "even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.”

Mourdock supporters said a recent poll showing Donnelly took an 11-point lead after the comment only made them more fired up.

"I think people just mess around with the numbers. We don't really believe Joe Donnelly has that kind of lead," Mary Ann Burke said, a tea party volunteer. "I don't believe those polls at all."

Burke said she didn't trust Brian Howey, the sponsor of the poll with DePauw University, because he supported Lugar in the primary. Howey has addressed those critiques on his website by arguing his admitted bias has nothing to do with how the poll was conducted.

A poll conducted by national pollster Rasmussen Reports shows Donnelly with only a 3-point lead. Mourdock said his campaign's internal polling shows a virtual tie.

Indiana Democratic Chairman Dan Parker said Sunday that the Mourdock campaign has been attacking pollsters in recent days. "Campaigns that are behind usually fight about the poll numbers," Parker said.

Tuesday's election will test whether Indiana's tea party supporters can succeed where groups in Delaware, Nevada and Colorado failed in 2010. Mainstream Republicans blamed those losses on tea party-backed candidates who made critical mistakes and opened opportunities that Democrats capitalized on.

If Mourdock loses Tuesday it will be in part because of negative-sounding sound bites that have been re-played by Democrats ad infinitum in advertising. His actual views on abortion are similar to Donnelly's. In fact, Donnelly last year backed a measure that would have denied federal abortion funding even in cases of rape and incest.  

A Mourdock loss will likely cost Republicans control of the Senate again.

In trying to make a case for his re-election last year, Lugar had said tea party candidates who ousted more electable moderate Republicans cost his party control of the Senate in the last election.

Kristin Minor, a maternity services worker who joined the tea party because of her anger with the health care overhaul said it would be incorrect to lay the blame for a Mourdock loss at the tea party's feet, even though she expects the group will be scapegoated.

"I think that with any loss of anything there needs to be a scapegoat, and I think the tea party is ripe for that," Minor said. "I don't think it will stop us, I think the sleeping giant has awakened across the country."

For Indiana's tea party umbrella group, knocking out Lugar was the relatively easy part. Fettig pointed out that he and Monica Boyer formed Hoosiers for Conservative Senate in the wake of a 2010 election which saw U.S. Sen. Dan Coats win a Republican primary because numerous candidates split the tea party vote.

They coalesced behind Mourdock and carried him through the primary, with a big hand from the anti-tax Club for Growth, which spent heavily on-air in the primary. But the general election battle has brought in a new dynamic, including a more active Republican establishment and a more disciplined campaign from Democrats. And Donnelly is poised for an upset Tuesday as a result.

Boyer said Sunday she was still confident the tea party can deliver Indiana on Tuesday, despite what any poll says.

"We work as if we're 50 percent behind, whether we're ahead or behind," she said.

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  • Tea Party
    Mourdock is not extreme!! Obamacare and Stiumulus were "extreme". Hurling our country toward bankruptcy is extreme. We have to stop these stupid lunatics from ruining this country and stopping madness is not extrmem!
  • @Josie
    I understand that you need a reason to vote for someone as much as a reason to vote against someone. I think most know that there are infinite reasons Obama hasn't lived up to expectations and doesn't deserve the vote. Romney has continually laid out a plan for the future. Just because he hasn't came out with a 2000 page bill that no one will read, or the details in the exact percentage of deductions allowable for higher incomes, doesn't mean his plan is any less trustworthy. His plan to rewrite tax code to lessen the deductions for rich, help small business, and eliminate a tax on the middle class that is Obamacare. Obamacare alone is a system that will lead to lower quality healthcare that will deepen america's debt and create a shortage of doctors. If people haven't figured out by now that Obama reelection will lead to another stagnant four years with more debt, then they have no hope. Romney is not Bush. Romney has real ideas. Bain, Olympics, MA,... none regret hiring him. Obama hit Romney by saying he lacks the details when Obama can't come up with a general idea. Its probably too late to change votes or opinions, especially in Indiana, it just frustrates me how anyone could think Obama deserves another 4 years. People are losing jobs and voting for more Obama. Thats exactly Obama's plan to create more democrats dependent on the Government. Romney is real change.
  • @Charlie
    Charlie, I'd love for you to use this forum to convince me and others to vote for Romney. You criticize Obama for not having a plan, when Romney is the one who has repeatedly refused to provide any details to back up what he'd do to create jobs and stimulate growth. He offers no specifics. What would you say to convince someone to vote for Romney -- not simply voting against Obama? And please be specific!
  • Answers are Democratic; Questions are Republican
    Still waiting for ANY Republican direction in how they would jump-start the economy. At least Obama administration has done that with economic bailouts and plans to fund it; a healthcare solution so all Americans have access to affordable healthcare and not be hampered with bankruptcies due to health bills. Republicans have blocked any revenue-generation devices whatsoever. Romney has done the shell con game throughout this campaign with NO solution, just his "trust me, once I get in I'll have a plan" speech. Democrats = Tax and Spend Republicans = Spend but don't get revenue but go ahead and Spend again
  • @Charlie's Wonka
    Very well put together and thought out message...or not so much. Typical democrat to respond with name calling, failing to mention a single reason behind a vote for Obama. Obama's entire campaign has revolved around name calling and trying to shame Romney, as he doesn't have a plan to right the economy. Without a plan and without anything positive from the last four years, democrats resort to hate as in Wonka's post. I'm far from rich, and still not sure how taxing the rich will add jobs. All i ask Obama supporters is to give me real answers on what Obama has accomplished and why they continue to vote for him, and the only response is to blame Bush or call me racist.
    • It's all over but the crying
      Mourdock was never a strong candidate but he committed political suicide with his comments about rape. He was so weak he had to interview twice to get the endorsement of Club for Growth. He cried or teared up when he called on newspapers for their endorsement. He has embarrassed the State and the GOP. He was on the front page in a newspaper in Hungary after his rape comments.
    • Evil Republicans
      Vote for a RepubliCON candidate in Indiana -- Mourdock, Pence, etc -- and you are not voting for Indiana interests, but instead voting for an empty suit that will only vote for the national GOP's interests. There is not one bit of Hoosier interests in these RePUPPETcons backsides.
    • Obama and democrats are frauds
      Hopefully women will realize that this election both state and national is a whole lot more important than their right to abortion or gov paying for your birth control. Fact is democrats are running this country into the ground with more lost jobs, lower wages, a debt that is pushing america towards bankruptcy, cover ups in foreign terroist acts. I hear Obama supporters say he's done a ok job. every promise he's made from uniting country, to debt, to jobs, to unemployment is worse. Donnelly will only help Obama. You can continue to think this election is about birth control or abortion, fact is women have lost more jobs under obama than ever before.
    • When did the IBJ become a political paper
      Since when did the IBJ become so politically focused? This paper is doing more political reporting than the Star--and running just as many AP stories. Run some unbiased, original content, please.
    • women's rights
      if mourdock gits elected it will be the last time women will be allowed to vote! he is so scarey! we will be throwed back into the dark ages!!! god help us if he wins!
    • Murdock is scary
      Of all the candidates running for offices in Indiana this election or in previous ones, Murdock represents some of the most extremist views ever put before a vote. So glad to see this man will not be elected. And yes, Lugar was a man of principle who put the country's welfare ahead of solely political interests.
    • Mourdock
      What is it about "Taxed Enough Already" do you find offensive? I am offended by idiotic leftwing politics and politicians! We don't need a low-character lier like Donnelly. At least Mourdock has principles and values!
    • Mourdock
      Mourdock is a good man of principle. He is running against a "man" who lied about what Mourdock said and meant. We will see if voters are smart enough to see what is going on
    • i hope not
      We do not need a person like murdock! This tea party business is a joke! I was a meber like my friends we left after what they did to lugar and nor murdock comments!
      • Close? Who says?
        Richard Lugar had clout on Capitol Hill. He had rank and could get things done. He also did not vote strictly GOP. He voted waht he felt the best. First mistake of the Tea Party. Second, Mourdock is a horrible example of a candidate. They could have done alot better. And, the race being close? Hardly! Donnelly and Mourdock may have once been close. But, no more. Mourdock is way behind in the polls. And, thanks, he did it all himself. Anyone who votes for him (particularly women) is only shooting himself in the foot--a dangerous place to shoot yourself.
      • Women Beware
        Any woman voting for Mourdock is signing away her rights, all of her rights. This election is all about women. If Mourdock wins, women lose! Pretty simple!

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