On the campaign trail, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful John Gregg often rips on Washington — a place he says voters "don't want anything to do with."
It's a line intended to highlight the resume of his Republican opponent, Mike Pence, who has spent 12 years representing Indiana's 6th District in the U.S. House.
"Washington, D.C. is a broken system and we don't want any part of that in Indiana," Gregg said recently.
He uses those lines often enough that Republicans are now taking note of the former Indiana House speaker's connections to the nation's capital in an effort to raise the question: Isn't Gregg a professional politician, too?
Most recently, they pointed out a fundraiser for Gregg held Wednesday night at Johnny's Half Shell, a Washington, D.C. restaurant.
Among the hosts were a number of former and current senators and House members, including Evan Bayh, Baron Hill, Joe Donnelly, Andre Carson and Pete Visclosky. Also invited was Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, head of the national Democratic Governors' Association.
The event raised money that Gregg needs. He's facing a three-to-one financial disadvantage, since he closed March out with $1.5 million in the bank while Pence had $4.9 million.
The location, though, prompted Republicans to point out that it seemed at odds with Gregg's campaign rhetoric about Washington.
"You can call that Speaker Gregg's personal D.C. bailout," said Pete Seat, the Indiana Republican Party's spokesman.
Meanwhile, the Indiana Democratic Party invited former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to speak at its major Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner on May 4 — an event Gregg and other party leaders are sure to attend.
Gregg's campaign responded that one night in Washington is nothing compared to Pence's time there since he was elected in 2000.
"If Hoosiers are worried about bringing Washington to the governor's office, then they certainly shouldn't be supporting Congressman Mike Pence — the ultimate Washington insider," said Gregg spokeswoman Megan Jacobs . . .