By KEVIN ALLEN - Follow me @KevinAllenSBT
South Bend Tribune Staff Writer
10:03 PM EDT, July 24, 2012
In one advertisement, Democrat Joe Donnelly coaches two basketball teams -- dressed symbolically in blue and red -- while an actor pretending to be Republican Richard Mourdock leaps up from the bleachers and yells, "Hey, Donnelly, it's my way or the highway!"
In an online ad, funded by Mourdock's campaign, Donnelly is depicted in an animation as high-fiving Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and having his head patted by President Barack Obama. "Reid wants another loyal lieutenant to help implement the Obama agenda," a gravelly voiced narrator says.
Donnelly and Mourdock are trading punches over the airwaves and on the campaign trail as they work to win the U.S. Senate seat that Republican Richard Lugar has held since 1977. Mourdock beat Lugar in a slugfest of a primary in May, but the general election might make it seem tame by comparison.
Donnelly, a three-term congressman from Granger, is emphasizing Mourdock's reputation as a "tea partier" who will exacerbate partisan gridlock in Washington.
One of Donnelly's ads plays a clip of a TV news interview in which Mourdock says, "To me, the highlight of politics, frankly, is to inflict my opinion on someone else."
Mourdock, in his second term as Indiana treasurer, contends that Donnelly supports an Obama agenda that is weakening the U.S. economy.
Mourdock spoke about tax policy Monday at Daman Products in Mishawaka, surrounded by local business owners who support him.
"The Obama administration and the Senate Democrats want to play fast and loose with tax policy," he said. "It's going to be absolutely devastating to small business owners in Indiana."
Mourdock was referring to the Bush tax cuts, which are the lower tax rates that took effect during George W. Bush's presidency. Those rates are scheduled to expire at the beginning of 2013.
Obama wants Congress to extend the lower rates for another year -- but only for people who earn less than $250,000 annually.
Mourdock, citing the nation's slow job growth and the possibility of another recession, said Congress should make the Bush tax cuts permanent for all Americans, and lawmakers should do it before they leave for their summer recess next month.
"There should be no tax increases," he said, "and taking away a cut is a tax increase."
Donnelly said he supports a one-year, across-the-board extension of the Bush tax cuts.
"We need to create jobs, we need to help the middle class and support small businesses," he said in a statement, "and we need to avoid partisan bickering and delay."
Staff writer Kevin Allen:
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