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Political Notebook

In defeat, Lugar wins tributes in Senate

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Senator Richard Lugar on Tuesday after a decisive defeat in the GOP primary to Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock.

WASHINGTON - Far from politics, six-term Senator Richard Lugar is considered a visionary who looked beyond US exuberance over the end of the Cold War and saw the dangers and opportunities in the collapse of a nuclear-armed Soviet Union.

In an age that worships whiz kids from Wall Street to Silicon Valley, the 80-year-old, soft-spoken Republican is widely described as a man ahead of his time, a thoughtful leader in the international arena who valued cooperation over partisanship.

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In 1991, he collaborated with Democratic former senator Sam Nunn on landmark legislation to help the former Soviet states destroy and secure their weapons of mass destruction, a program still going full bore today with thousands of nuclear warheads eliminated and nearly a thousand long-range missiles destroyed.

That singular achievement in a 35-year Senate career that was focused heavily on foreign policy and national security made Lugar’s decisive defeat to Richard Mourdock in Tuesday’s Indiana primary painful for Republicans and Democrats alike. “I’m just devastated,’’ said Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican.

In a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday, Foreign Relations Committee chairman John F. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, said Lugar “refused to allow this march to an orthodoxy about ideology and partisan politics to get in the way of what he thought was the responsibility of a senator and . . . the need of the country to have people come together and find the common ground.’’

— Associated Press

It’s no joke: Santorum backs Romney, sort of

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Rick Santorum explained his late-night e-mail endorsement of Mitt Romney on late-night television Tuesday, telling comedian Jay Leno that he wanted the message to be “the first thing people would see in the morning.’’

Santorum e-mailed supporters around 11 p.m. Monday to say he was backing Romney, whom he once called “the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama.’’ The 16-paragraph e-mail came almost a month after Santorum dropped out of the race. It highlighted disagreements between the former rivals and did not mention the endorsement until the 13th paragraph.

The timing and tenor of Santorum’s announcement were perceived by some political observers as a slight of Romney.

“It seems kind of tepid, doesn’t it?’’ Leno asked on NBC’s “Tonight Show.’’

“It was a rough-and-tumble campaign,’’ Santorum said. “I can’t say that it would have been an easy thing the next day to turn around and say, you know, ‘Let’s just go forward.’ ’’

Leno also asked Santorum if he regretted the “worst Republican’’ label he attached to Romney in regards to the issue of health care.

“No,’’ Santorum responded. “I think, unfortunately, with Romneycare that he was the author of that, and that was clearly a predecessor to Obamacare.’’

— Callum Borchers

Inmate tops Obama in eight West Virginia counties

A man currently incarcerated in federal prison beat President Obama in eight West Virginia counties Tuesday, according to unofficial results of a Democratic primary in that state.

Keith Judd, 53, who is serving a 210-month sentence for extortion, won 42 percent of the statewide vote. Obama won the primary with 58 percent.

Judd’s performance was good enough to earn multiple delegates to the Democratic National Convention, but no one has registered as a Judd delegate. Derek Scarbro, who heads West Virginia’s Democratic Party, told the Charleston Gazette that it is unlikely Judd will actually be represented in Charlotte this September but said he is “researching it.’’

West Virginia, where Obama’s position on coal mining is widely unpopular, has been a source of embarrassment for the president in recent weeks. Two of the state’s top Democrats, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and Senator Joe Manchin, have said they are unsure whether they will vote for Obama in November.

— Callum Borchers
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