INDIANAPOLIS | Ahead of Tuesday's final U.S. Senate debate, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is telling Hoosiers in a new ad airing on Northwest Indiana cable TV stations that he needs them to elect Richard Mourdock.
"As senator, Richard will be the 51st vote to repeal and replace government-run health care," Romney says in the ad. "With so much at stake, I hope you'll join me in supporting Richard Mourdock for U.S. Senate."
Romney is the latest in a slew of national Republicans calling on Hoosiers to elect Mourdock over Democrat Joe Donnelly, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie who campaigned alongside Mourdock in Merrillville last week.
Also making recent Indiana appearances for Mourdock were U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the Senate Republican leader; as well as U.S. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Not campaigning on Mourdock's behalf is the man he defeated in the Republican primary, U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar. Lugar has endorsed Mourdock in the hope of giving McConnell a Republican majority, but Lugar has refused to publicly appear with the two-term state treasurer.
Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker, who didn't even run a Democrat against Lugar in 2006, believes Lugar is right to shun Mourdock after how the six-term incumbent was treated during the GOP primary.
"Richard Mourdock is trying to change his tune," Parker said. "But Hoosiers know who he is -- a Tea Party extremist who said Senator Lugar 'betrayed conservatives.'"
As for Romney, the former Massachusetts governor previously appeared in a Donnelly ad critical of Mourdock's approach to politics that also featured former President Bill Clinton. That ad showed Romney saying in the first presidential debate as governor he learned "I don't get a lot done" by saying "my way or the highway."
Mourdock and Donnelly, along with Libertarian Andrew Horning, will meet for their final debate at 6 p.m. region time Tuesday in New Albany.
That showdown, sponsored by the nonpartisan Indiana Debate Commission, will be broadcast live on Lakeshore Public Television and Radio (89.1 FM) and webcast at indianadebatecommission.com.