Congressional Quarterly, assessing 760 votes over the eight Reagan years, said Lugar supported the president 88 percent of the time — more than any other senator. Yes, Lugar voted for Barack Obama’s two Supreme Court nominees, but there is a conservative case to be made (conservatives make it when they have the presidency) for deference as the default position regarding presidents’ judicial choices. Yes, Lugar voted for the New START treaty, but all living Republican ex-secretaries of state supported it, including George Shultz, who served Ronald Reagan. Shultz has endorsed Lugar (“Reagan relied on him”).
Lugar has cast almost 13,000 Senate votes, so everyone has something about which to complain, and almost every conservative particularly dislikes one vote, that for the Troubled Assets Relief Program. The political center — of the nation and the GOP — has moved rightward since Lugar became a senator in 1977, and in 2010 the American Conservative Union rated Lugar the fifth most liberal Republican senator, and the National Journal ranked him the fourth. This, even though he opposed the stimulus, cap-and-trade (Indiana is a coal state), Obamacare and Dodd-Frank, is pro-life and has voted eight times for a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.