By Paul Scicchitano
Fresh off Tuesday's upset victory, Richard Mourdock tells Newsmax.TV exclusively that he views his primary defeat of six-term Sen. Richard Lugar as a wake-up call for a sleeping giant -- in this case the American people -- who collectively rose up for a smaller and more fiscally responsible government.
"It was about more than Indiana yesterday here in Indiana. It was about the tone that's going to be carried forward in the Senate of the United States by Republicans. And I think it was a great thing," declared Mourdock on Wednesday. "I think we truly have fired a shot that may yet be heard round the world."
With the bitter GOP senatorial primary behind him, Mourdock says he would welcome Lugar's support in his bid to defeat Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly in the general election.
Lugar told supporters on Tuesday that he had "no regrets" about running for re-election and he made it clear that he wanted Mourdock to win in November so that he might contribute to a Republican majority in the Senate.
"He's a person for whom I have great respect and he has never been, nor will he ever be my enemy," insisted Mourdock, the Indiana state treasurer. "He was merely my opponent for a few months. And I'll guarantee you. I've lost elections. I know how it hurts. I can guarantee you today he's not comfortable, and I truly regret that. But what Sen. Lugar does in the future in helping our campaign that will be his decision. I would love to have him help us if he's comfortable doing that. If not, I understand that too."
Mourdock said that the state Republican party is undergoing a healing process, which began on Wednesday with a joint press conference by elected officials. "We are healing this party," he said, operating on three hours of sleep and "a lot of caffeine" after his victory. "Iron sharpens iron. It's a wonderful proverb, and this primary process has made me better as a candidate. I know it's made our party better for the competition."
While President Barack Obama issued a statement praising Sen. Lugar for his bipartisanship, Mourdock counters that bipartisanship isn't always in the best interest of the country, which is something that voters recognized on Tuesday.
"We are in a historical moment when the most powerful people in the two political parties are at the extreme ends of their party. We have deadlock right now. We have gridlock right now," he explained. "When they do come together to find some compromise it's the Democrats saying, "let's spend $500 billion we don't have, and the Republicans saying, "no, no that's ridiculous. Let's spend $300 billion we don't have.' So they end up compromising and spend $400 billion we don't have."
If elected, Mourdock said that he will base his decisions on the principle of living within our means as a nation. "We can't compromise on that principle. We have to have the principle of more limited government," he said. "I'm not willing to compromise on that. If there's a bill somewhere that talks about how we're going to manage a budget or manage a program and it's something we can otherwise afford, yeah I'm willing to compromise on those kinds of numbers. But I'm also willing to confront those -- in a bipartisan way either Republicans or Democrats -- if they're big spenders."
Mourdock's campaign to unseat Lugar was helped by the tea-party affiliated FreedomWorks for America, which pumped $600,000 into the race, as well as the conservative Club for Growth. But the candidate makes no apologies for accepting outside support.
"I'm the first to admit there was a special interest group that got behind us. They're called conservatives and they are conservatives from all over this country. And they . . . wanted to send a message that they want to see conservatism in the United States Senate," he maintained, adding that his 22-point victory over Lugar may have had more to do with people wanting to feel like their votes counted than on the outside contributions.
"I think that sleeping giant . . . is real. I know we received a lot of messages in the last 12 hours of people who suddenly feel inspired in their home states -- in Texas, in Utah, in Missouri, Nebraska," according to Mourdock, who believes that his Democratic opponent will have even more explaining to do to voters over his record than Lugar did.
"Well, clearly the issues that will cause us to defeat Joe Donnelly are the fact that he's consistently voted with Barack Obama," said Mourdock, looking forward to a chance to debate his Democratic challenger. "I need simply ask, 'Mr. Donnelly, who are you going to vote for, for president?'"
While President Obama managed to eke out a close victory in Indiana over Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2008, Mourdock is confident in predicting that Mitt Romney will carry the state in 2012.
"I think overwhelmingly they will support Gov. Romney. Mr. Obama, as I say, has burned his bridges in this state. He spent in 2008 more money to win those 11 electoral votes than Gov. Daniels spent that year to be re-elected as governor of Indiana. It was unprecedented," said Mourdock. "This cycle Mr. Obama is going to spend a lot more time in the so-called key swing states and I don't think he'll be worrying about coming here."
Before announcing his candidacy in February of 2011, Mourdock said he consulted with 90 of Indiana's Republican county chairs. "I came away from those meetings convinced that Sen. Lugar was likely to lose but the numbers that we won by with yesterday -- winning 22 percent -- was absolutely remarkable," he said, acknowledging that his campaign sent a message to America.
The unsung heroes of his campaign are thousands of volunteers who canvassed the state on his behalf.
"The reason why we were successful was we had some 3,000 volunteers around this state that on Election Day probably put in something like 15,000 to 18,000 man hours in that one day just to remind people who are going in as Republicans that this time they had a choice. And clearly people made that choice in overwhelming numbers," Mourdock added.