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Lugar's McCain Moment? Lugar's McCain Moment?

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Lugar's McCain Moment?

Updated at 1:46 p.m.

Democrats are flagging an interview Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., did Tuesday with Louisville television station WDRB in which the longtime Republican senator says the "American economy is still strong."

Lugar's quote, in more context: "The American economy is still strong, that we're making progress although it's very slow in terms of job creation, and that we still have a dollar that is the world currency and we are still selling bonds to everybody all over the world despite the S&P downgrade."

Following Standard & Poor's announcement late last week that the U.S.'s credit rating would be downgraded, the stock market has been on a roller coaster ride -- closing down more than 600 points Monday while rebounding to close up more than 400 on Tuesday.

"Dick Lugar believes the American economy is resilient and will come back from the damage done by President Obama and the Democrats. Even with the damage done, the underlying basis for the American economy is strong, and we Republicans have full faith in our free market," said Lugar political director David Willkie.

During the 2008 presidential election, Democrats blasted Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., for an unfortunately timed remark along similar lines that proved damaging to his campaign. McCain said "the fundamentals of our economy are strong," in mid-September of that year, just as Lehman Brothers was collapsing and the nation's economic state reached a critical condition.

Democrats would like to see Lugar go down in the primary so that their own general election chances improve in a race against Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who has less appeal to Democrats and independents. "His remarks are nothing short of insulting to the Hoosier families who are very worried about what's happening on Wall Street and don't feel that the economy is strong," Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Shripal Shah said in a statement.

Anecdotally, it's interesting that Democrats are using this line of attack -- the president, a Democrat, is the figure voters most often held most responsible for the economy. But it illuminates the "enemy of my enemy is my friend" strategy often at work when parties try to elevate or push down a candidate in the opposing primary.


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