The debate between US Senator Richard Lugar and State Treasurer Richard Mourdock is tonight. Both are competing to be the GOP nominee in the United States Senate race in Indiana. The winner on May 8 will be competing with Democratic Congressman Joe Donnelly in the fall.
You can view the debate via C-SPAN here or listen here. It starts at 7pm EST.
I talked to some of the supporters that were lined up outside of the debate's venue just a few minutes ago.
My thoughts, as follows:
Mourdock's supporters are much more passionate. They are really committed to their candidate and give a hint that they might not turn out for Richard Lugar in the fall.
On the other hand, they are really attached to two issues: Lugar's residency and Lugar's votes for Supreme Court justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. They view those as votes for liberal justices and that Democrats wouldn't vote for conservative justices appointed by a Republican President. The Mourdock supporters I talked to struggle to go outside of those two issues besides generalities such as "love for the Constitution" and "patriotic".
Lugar's supporters think Lugar will be an asset when the Senate falls into GOP hands, and believe he is vital to saving the country. Especially if President Barack Obama is elected to a second term. They say that he knows the most about foreign policy than anyone else in D.C. ("including the President," as one Lugar supporter quipped to me).
When I questioned some Lugar supporters about his votes for Sotomayor and Kagan, they claim that it is because he believes and respects the Constitution's "advice and consent" role in choosing judges. They say that as long as a President nominates someone, the Senate should defer to the President unless the nominee is blatantly unqualified.
And despite what some Lugar surrogates in the media act like, it seems that regular supporters would be happy to support Mourdock if he becomes the nominee. One Lugar supporter told me he doesn't think Mourdock is a "monster" (his words, not mine), but he does think Indiana would lose a great asset if Lugar doesn't win the nomination.
There was a collective fear among Lugar supporters that Mourdock is a more vulnerable candidate in the fall.
Neither Mourdock or Lugar supporters that I talked to were open to voting for Democrat candidate Joe Donnelly.
Tune in if you want. I'm sure it'll be dry, but I'm hoping some crazy from someone will come out.