Saturday, May 12, 2012

Workhorse Tour Kicks Off Campaign

Congressman Andre Carson
In front of 175 or so concerned Hoosiers, John Gregg, Joe Donnelly, and Andre Carson kicked off the 2012 General Election campaign at the Friendship Center for Excellence Saturday morning.  City-County Council President Maggie Lewis served as the Master of Ceremonies for the event where Carson, Gregg, and Donnelly spoke in a rally-type atmosphere.

Carson was up first, and he got the rally kicked off right with a rousing speech that contrasted the Republican agenda with the Democratic agenda.  Carson's message was that turning Indiana blue again is something that will make government work for middle class Hoosiers and working families.

John Gregg
Gregg took the podium next.  For Gregg, his message was targeted more towards Mike Pence and featured a lot of Tea Party references.  For instance, Gregg targeted Mike Pence and Richard Mourdock as Tea Party insiders.  He also made issue of Pence's residency in Virginia.  "Hoosiers have had enough of people that live in Virginia trying to run for office in Indiana," said Gregg.  His message wasn't all filled with barbs.  Gregg said that as Governor, he will work on Indiana's economy to put Hoosiers back to work and improve education by listening to teachers, principals, and superintendents.

Gregg's biggest applause line from the entire speech was about his position on abortion and how that relates to the defunding of Planned Parenthood.  That's something that Pence favors, but it's something Gregg opposes even though he is pro-life.  Gregg said the question isn't about being pro-life or pro-choice, but he said that it is about the right of women to have affordable preventative care to prevent disease.

Congressman Joe Donnelly
Donnelly was third on the docket.  Dressed in a button down shirt and jeans, he contrasted with Carson and Gregg who opted for suits.  Donnelly told the crowd that he had been urged to put a suit in the car just in case Carson and Gregg dressed up for the occasion by his wife, but he told her, "Nah.  Johnny and Andre would never do that to me."  It drew a great laugh.

His rhetoric took aim at the extremism of Richard Mourdock.  He quoted the Washington Post saying that columnist Dana Milbank called Mourdock "dangerous for America" and brought up the point that Mourdock said his idea of bipartisanship was that the Democrats come over to the Republican point of view. "That's not going to happen in Congress," said Donnelly.

Fired Up Hoosiers
Donnelly said that a good Senator must be able to work across the aisle, and he cited a sit down conversation he had as an new legislator with Senator Richard Lugar as an example.  He said that when he came to Washington that he was very green.  He walked over to the Senator's office and tried to get a meeting with him.  The next day, Lugar called him and invited him to breakfast.  Over breakfast, Lugar promised to help Donnelly in way that he could, and he told him that legislators don't work for parties but, "We work for the American people."  Donnelly thanked Lugar for his long service and said he would continue to serve in that mold.

After speaking, Carson and Donnelly stuck around for pictures and to speak with voters.  I talked to Donnelly briefly about his position on marriage equality.  He made it clear to me that he would not support same sex marriage.  Donnelly told me, "I can't go there."  He did say that he was open to looking at other avenues for same sex people to be joined in some sort of union.

It was a strong event and a solid kickoff for the General Election campaign in 2012.

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