That shift was hastened as Mourdock's tea party ground game was joined by outsider groups and political-action committees such as the antitax Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, and the National Rifle Association, leaving Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher to note that Indiana has become "the last playground for these national groups." The Club for Growth endorsement in February was "the best valentine I ever got," Mourdock says.
"Some persons within our party who say, my way or the highway – they really are less interested, in my judgment, in whether Republicans have a majority in the Senate or the House, than that there be a certain standard in close purity among those who are there," Lugar recently told Gwen Ifill of the "PBS NewsHour." "They do not feel that people ought to work with Democrats across the aisle. Compromise is a bad word."
While Lugar's campaign has slammed Mourdock for joining with out-of-state groups who conduct "Mickey Mouse attacks," Mourdock's ads have seized on Lugar's past support for a gasoline tax increase. The claim is based on an op-ed Lugar wrote for The Washington Post in 2009 in which the senator proposed a "net zero" tax shift by reducing payroll taxes by equal amounts. Despite a worsening energy situation, "Dick Lugar wanted to raise gas taxes a dollar a gallon," an announcer says in one Mourdock ad.
The attacks – as well as a residency scandal, in which Lugar's right to vote in Indiana was briefly revoked (he lives in an affluent suburb in McLean, Va., and has listed a home he sold in 1977 as his primary residence in Indiana), and questions about his age – have taken a toll on Lugar.