Lugar skips Indiana GOP unity rally to support Mourdock

Compare and contrast to Trey Grayson, who managed to collect himself and attend a unity rally for the tea partier who knocked him off in a bitter Kentucky primary in 2010. Then again, that rally was four days after the election, not 16 hours, so Grayson had had a chance to come to terms with it. Grayson is also half Lugar’s age and still has a future in the party, so he can less afford to make enemies than Lugar can. And of course, Grayson hadn’t been treated like royalty by the state for more than 35 years before suddenly being dealt a crushing 20-point loss. Coping with that is a lot to ask psychologically. It’s like suddenly throwing a car into reverse that’s been cruising along at 100 mph for hours. Don’t be surprised if there’s some resistance.

While the GOP billed their event as a “unity” news conference, Lugar did not join them. Mourdock began it, though, praising Lugar as “a person for whom I have the utmost respect.”

“I’ll tell you all right now, I really feel badly for him this morning, because I’ve lost elections and I know how much it hurts,” Mourdock said. “For Mr. Lugar’s incredible length of service and all that he has done as the mayor of this city, as a great Hoosier and a great American, he will forever have my respect. He has never been my enemy and never will be. The legacy of Richard Lugar, when it is written years from now, last night will not be mentioned. What will be mentioned will be his time in this city. What will be mentioned is his time as a leader in the U.S. Senate and even as an international statesman.”

[Democratic candidate Joe] Donnelly, though, spoke even longer about Lugar’s service, and was able to talk about the personal bipartisan relationship that they had built from the day Donnelly first came to Congress and Lugar invited him to breakfast, promising him that their conversations would stay private and that he wanted to help in any way he could in order to best serve Hoosiers.

So far, Mourdock and Lugar have not spoken to each other since Lugar conceded. Donnelly said he called Lugar and left a message.

Watch Daniels at 2:45 of the clip gently scolding Lugar for the slashing critique of Mourdock that his office put out last night. I think he’ll come around and endorse Mourdock eventually once he takes a breath and realizes what this sore loser-dom is doing to his reputation as the kindly old gentleman senator. But I don’t know. Mourdock’s still a favorite to beat Donnelly but if Lugar stays stonily silent it might convince enough of his loyalists to stay home or cross over in November to make things interesting. And remember, Lugar’s pals with Obama and might very well be in line for some sort of foreign-policy appointment once one opens up. (Maybe as Hillary’s successor?) O could offer him a deal: Help Donnelly by condemning Mourdock and the uncompromising ideology of the tea party and earn a place in the cabinet. Would Lugar take that deal? Stay tuned.

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