Saturday, February 19, 2011

American Standard On Lugar: Obama's Favorite Republican

Lugar looking on as Obama signs the START Treaty he supported
The American Standard's Kenneth Tomlinson picks up on a theme I spoke about earlier when I pondered if Sen. Richard Lugar's status as "Obama's Favorite Senator" would be reminiscent of the problem he faced in his unsuccessful 1974 race against Birch Bayh when he was dubbed "Richard Nixon's Favorite Mayor."

Back when he was running for president, Barack Obama cited his relationship with Senator Richard Lugar so often that Lugar came to be known in the political press as “Obama’s favorite Republican.” Photos of Lugar even appeared in campaign ads that helped Obama (narrowly) carry Indiana.

After the election, the relationship continued to bear fruit for the White House. Lugar was one of the first Republican senators to endorse the president’s choice of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. Lugar was one of only five Senate Republicans to vote to confirm Elena Kagan.

And at the White House press conference called in December to celebrate Senate ratification of the START treaty, Obama explained, “I just got off the phone with Dick Lugar .  .  . and I told him how much I appreciated the work he had done.” . . . .

Ultimately, however, it may be the words of Barack Obama that will give Lugar the most trouble back home. It puzzles political observers that Lugar allowed himself to be placed in this predicament—though it does echo the problems he had 40 years back as mayor of Indianapolis when networks dubbed him Richard Nixon’s favorite mayor . . .
It could be that this history made Lugar vulnerable to Obama’s self-serving adoration. Indeed, if Lugar does stay in the 2012 Republican Senate primary, the list of disappointments may get a little longer.
Tomlinson's focus on the 2012 Senate primary race talks about announced and potential candidates State Treasurer Richard Mourdock and Sen. Mike Delph. Tomlinson even wonders if Mike Pence may be so buoyed by Lugar's vulnerability that he decides to take a shot at him, although the smart money is on Pence running for governor and waiting for a later shot at running for president. Tomlinson also says there is some speculation Lugar will ultimately bow out of the race when he sees the breadth of Republican party leadership lining up behind Mourdock at his scheduled announcement next Tuesday. "In Washington, there are those who insist the prideful Lugar in the end will call it quits rather than face GOP opposition back home," Tomlinson writes. Perhaps a bit surprising, Tomlinson cites sources close to Gov. Mitch Daniels as indicating he will likely remain neutral in Lugar's primary, which is a bit surprising given Daniels got his start as a youngster working for then-Mayor Richard Lugar and later ad one of his Senate aides.

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