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Sen. Dick Lugar trails GOP rival in poll. A surge of tea party power?

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Fighting a tea party movement that helped turn a majority of Republican county chairmen against him, Lugar has found himself needing to defend not just his beliefs, but also his legislative strategy, especially his willingness to go along with President Obama's US Supreme Court nominees and the Democrats' DREAM Act for the children of illegal immigrants.

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."

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