Sen. Richard G. Lugar, facing a tough battle for renomination in his own party next year, said Republicans could lose his seat in Indiana if he isn’t the nominee.
The six-term senator is facing a primary challenge next year from Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who is trying to capitalize on tea party activists in the state who feel Mr. Lugar is too moderate and too willing to work with Democrats.
“They were people who claimed that they wanted somebody who was more of their tea party aspect, but in doing so, they killed off the Republican chances for a majority,” he said. “This is one of the reasons why we have a minority in the Senate right now.”
“I’m not certain … that I’m the most vulnerable,” Mr. Lugar said. “Our campaign has already enlisted hundreds of volunteers from all the backgrounds that I’ve talked about. We’ve made 517,000 calls already, just to the spectrum of people who might vote in the Republican primary.”
Tea party voters in his state, he said, are looking for a fiscal conservative to back in next year’s Senate race, and, “I would say to them respectfully that it is me.”
“I have visited with many tea party groups. They have not pledged support, but they understand my position, and some even are going to be voting for me,” he told CNN host Candy Crowley.
“The point I’m trying to make is that it’s, I think, useful to understand a Republican majority in the Senate is very important. And Republicans who are running for re-election ought to be supported by people who want to see that majority,” he said.
Mr. Lugar, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he has not endorsed anyone in the GOP presidential field, but he was critical of Rep. Ron Paul, the Texas congressman who has been leading in Iowa polls with little more than a week left before that state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses.
Asked about Mr. Paul’s promises to pull American forces back home from bases around the world, Mr. Lugar said, “It is not a message which really a president of the United States could ever afford to extend. We’re a party […] of leadership in the world.
“To roundly condemn foreign aid or the fact that we are concerned about borders in Afghanistan and Pakistan and what have you seems to me is really uncalled-for,” he said.