U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly sat at a table at the Workingman's Friend tavern in Indianapolis on Monday, chatting with voters as part of a statewide tour launching his campaign for the Senate.
He talked about his commitment to creating jobs, helping veterans and protecting Social Security. And he made sure they knew that he thinks "the answers are not out in Washington, they're here at home."
"That," Donnelly said, "is why I try to come home almost every weekend."
Stressing that his home is in South Bend, not in Washington, might not seem like much of a campaign theme.
But this might not be an ordinary campaign. Donnelly, a Democrat, will run against the winner of the Republican primary, a race in which Sen. Richard Lugar is being pounded by state Treasurer Richard Mourdock over questions of residency . . .
But as he travels the state, Donnelly said, voters do bring up the issue of Lugar's address.
"They don't understand it," he said. "This is not to be disrespectful to the senator, but they don't understand how he didn't have a residence here for such a long time."
Voters will decide whether that's an important enough question to influence their vote, he said.
"But here's what I know: I come home almost every weekend. My ability to do my job comes from sitting in restaurants in Rochester and going to fish fries in LaPorte and visiting schools in my district and meeting with folks back home. There's a lot more wisdom in Indiana, from Evansville to Steuben County, than there is in Washington, D.C.," Donnelly said.