of Senator Richard G. Lugar on the Concluded Indiana Senate
Primary - May 8, 2012
I would like to comment on the Senate race just concluded and the
direction of American politics and the Republican Party. I would
reiterate from my earlier statement that I have no regrets about
choosing to run for office. My health is excellent, I believe that I
have been a very effective Senator for Hoosiers and for the country,
and I know that the next six years would have been a time of great
achievement. Further, I believed that vital national priorities,
including job creation, deficit reduction, energy security, agriculture
reform, and the Nunn-Lugar program, would benefit from my continued
service as a Senator. These goals were worth the risk of an electoral
defeat and the costs of a hard campaign.
Analysts will speculate about whether our campaign strategies were
wise. Much of this will be based on conjecture by pundits who don’t
fully appreciate the choices we had to make based on resource limits,
polling data, and other factors. They also will speculate whether we
were guilty of overconfidence.
The truth is that the headwinds in this race were abundantly
apparent long before Richard Mourdock announced his candidacy. One
does not highlight such headwinds publically when one is waging a
campaign. But I knew that I would face an extremely strong
anti-incumbent mood following a recession. I knew that my work with
then-Senator Barack Obama would be used against me, even if our
relationship were overhyped. I also knew from the races in 2010 that I
was a likely target of Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and other Super
Pacs dedicated to defeating at least one Republican as a purification
exercise to enhance their influence over other Republican legislators.
We undertook this campaign soberly and we worked very hard in 2010,
2011, and 2012 to overcome these challenges. There never was a moment
when my campaign took anything for granted. This is why we put so much
effort into our get out the vote operations.
Ultimately, the re-election of an incumbent to Congress usually
comes down to whether voters agree with the positions the incumbent has
taken. I knew that I had cast recent votes that would be unpopular with
some Republicans and that would be targeted by outside groups.
These included my votes for the TARP program, for government support
of the auto industry, for the START Treaty, and for the confirmations
of Justices Sotomayor and Kagan. I also advanced several propositions
that were considered heretical by some, including the thought that
Congressional earmarks saved no money and turned spending power over to
unelected bureaucrats and that the country should explore options for
It was apparent that these positions would be attacked in a
Republican primary. But I believe that they were the right votes for
the country, and I stand by them without regrets, as I have throughout
From time to time during the last two years I heard from
well-meaning individuals who suggested that I ought to consider running
as an independent. My response was always the same: I am a Republican
now and always have been. I have no desire to run as anything else. All
my life, I have believed in the Republican principles of small
government, low taxes, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and
trade expansion. According to Congressional Quarterly vote studies, I
supported President Reagan more often than any other Senator. I want to
see a Republican elected President, and I want to see a Republican
majority in the Congress. I hope my opponent wins in November to help
give my friend Mitch McConnell a majority.
If Mr. Mourdock is elected, I want him to be a good Senator. But
that will require him to revise his stated goal of bringing more
partisanship to Washington. He and I share many positions, but his
embrace of an unrelenting partisan mindset is irreconcilable with my
philosophy of governance and my experience of what brings results for
Hoosiers in the Senate. In effect, what he has promised in this
campaign is reflexive votes for a rejectionist orthodoxy and rigid
opposition to the actions and proposals of the other party. His answer
to the inevitable roadblocks he will encounter in Congress is merely to
campaign for more Republicans who embrace the same partisan outlook. He
has pledged his support to groups whose prime mission is to cleanse the
Republican party of those who stray from orthodoxy as they see it.
This is not conducive to problem solving and governance. And he will
find that unless he modifies his approach, he will achieve little as a
legislator. Worse, he will help delay solutions that are totally beyond
the capacity of partisan majorities to achieve. The most consequential
of these is stabilizing and reversing the Federal debt in an era when
millions of baby boomers are retiring. There is little likelihood that
either party will be able to impose their favored budget solutions on
the other without some degree of compromise.
Unfortunately, we have an increasing number of legislators in both
parties who have adopted an unrelenting partisan viewpoint. This shows
up in countless vote studies that find diminishing intersections
between Democrat and Republican positions. Partisans at both ends of
the political spectrum are dominating the political debate in our
country. And partisan groups, including outside groups that spent
millions against me in this race, are determined to see that this
continues. They have worked to make it as difficult as possible for a
legislator of either party to hold independent views or engage in
constructive compromise. If that attitude prevails in American
politics, our government will remain mired in the dysfunction we have
witnessed during the last several years. And I believe that if this
attitude expands in the Republican Party, we will be relegated to
minority status. Parties don’t succeed for long if they stop appealing
to voters who may disagree with them on some issues.
Legislators should have an ideological grounding and strong beliefs
identifiable to their constituents. I believe I have offered that
throughout my career. But ideology cannot be a substitute for a
determination to think for yourself, for a willingness to study an
issue objectively, and for the fortitude to sometimes disagree with
your party or even your constituents. Like Edmund Burke, I believe
leaders owe the people they represent their best judgment.
Too often bipartisanship is equated with centrism or deal cutting.
Bipartisanship is not the opposite of principle. One can be very
conservative or very liberal and still have a bipartisan mindset. Such
a mindset acknowledges that the other party is also patriotic and may
have some good ideas. It acknowledges that national unity is important,
and that aggressive partisanship deepens cynicism, sharpens political
vendettas, and depletes the national reserve of good will that is
critical to our survival in hard times. Certainly this was understood
by President Reagan, who worked with Democrats frequently and showed
flexibility that would be ridiculed today – from assenting to tax
increases in the 1983 Social Security fix, to compromising on landmark
tax reform legislation in 1986, to advancing arms control agreements in
his second term.
I don’t remember a time when so many topics have become politically
unmentionable in one party or the other. Republicans cannot admit to
any nuance in policy on climate change. Republican members are now
expected to take pledges against any tax increases. For two consecutive
Presidential nomination cycles, GOP candidates competed with one
another to express the most strident anti-immigration view, even at the
risk of alienating a huge voting bloc. Similarly, most Democrats are
constrained when talking about such issues as entitlement cuts, tort
reform, and trade agreements. Our political system is losing its
ability to even explore alternatives. If fealty to these pledges
continues to expand, legislators may pledge their way into irrelevance.
Voters will be electing a slate of inflexible positions rather than a
I hope that as a nation we aspire to more than that. I hope we will
demand judgment from our leaders. I continue to believe that Hoosiers
value constructive leadership. I would not have run for office if I did
not believe that.
As someone who has seen much in the politics of our country and our
state, I am able to take the long view. I have not lost my enthusiasm
for the role played by the United States Senate. Nor has my belief in
conservative principles been diminished. I expect great things from my
party and my country. I hope all who participated in this election
share in this optimism.
Republican primary voters have chosen their candidate for the U.S.
Senate. I congratulate my opponent on his victory in a hard fought
race. I want to see a Republican in the White House, and I want to see
my friend Mitch McConnell have a Republican majority in the Senate. I
hope my opponent prevails in November to contribute to that Republican
am deeply grateful for the remarkable efforts of thousands of
volunteers who devoted countless hours to my campaign. The enthusiasm
of good friends and loyal supporters over many months was tremendously
encouraging. I thank my campaign team, who made enormous personal
sacrifices and never stopped working hard or seeking a path to victory.
Most of all, I want to thank my loving wife, Char, our four sons -
Mark, Bob, John, and David -- and the entire Lugar family for their
understanding, support, and love. Char and my family have been
indispensible to every aspect of my public service from the
Indianapolis School Board, onward.
public service is not concluded. I look forward to what can be achieved
in the Senate in the next eight months despite a very difficult
national election atmosphere. First among my goals will be passing a
good farm bill that saves taxpayers billions and gives farmers the best
chance to prosper. I also will use this period to advance the work of
the Nunn-Lugar program and other initiatives that benefit U.S. national
At the end of my term, I
will look forward to new opportunities to serve Indiana and our nation.
I will embrace projects where I can deliver the most benefit. I will
continue to support the Nunn-Lugar program in every way that I can. I
also want to build on my work related to nutrition and energy issues,
both locally and globally.
no regrets about running for re-election. All of us should believe in
the nobility of standing before the public and asking for their vote,
even if doing so can be a very daunting task. I still counsel young
people to consider elective public office, and I hope some listening to
me tonight will do just that.
the people of Indiana in the U.S. Senate has been the greatest honor of
my public life. Hoosiers deserve the best representation possible. They
deserve legislators who listen to the entire spectrum of citizen's
views and work to achieve consensus. They deserve legislators who, each
day, go to work thinking about how they can solve problems that matter
to Hoosiers. I am proud of the solutions we have brought to problems
over the years and the initiatives we have undertaken to build Indiana
and to protect our country.
experiencing deep political divisions in our society right now. These
divisions have stalemated progress in critical areas. But these
divisions are not insurmountable. I believe that people of good will -
regardless of party - can work together for the benefit of the country.
remain optimistic about the future of Indiana and the United States.
The news media and political leaders spend a great deal of time talking
about what is broken in our country. To some degree, that is the nature
of the business. But we should also have confidence that the unique
American experiment is alive and well. Our political system still can
We possess the resources,
human talent, and entrepreneurial energy to sustain our status as the
economic envy of the world. Our culture still is the global reference
point for progress among modern societies. People from all over the
world still want to come here to study, live, and invest. And we still
enjoy unprecedented freedoms that billions of people in our world can
only dream about. The task before us is to come together as Americans
to sustain the American dream at home, while protecting our security
and advancing our leadership abroad.
cherish the confidence that each of you has placed in me, and I urge
you to join me in a determination to continue to serve our country and
our state. God bless each of you and God bless America.
the President on the Retirement of Senator Richard Lugar
As a friend and former colleague, I want to express my deep
appreciation for Dick Lugar’s distinguished service in the United
States Senate. While Dick and I didn’t always agree on
everything, I found during my time in the Senate that he was often
willing to reach across the aisle and get things done. My
administration’s efforts to secure the world’s most dangerous weapons
has been based on the work that Senator Lugar began, as well as the
bipartisan cooperation we forged during my first overseas trip as
Senator to Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan. Senator Lugar comes
from a tradition of strong, bipartisan leadership on national security
that helped us prevail in the Cold War and sustain American leadership
ever since. He has served his constituents and his country well,
and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.