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Blog > Tony Katz > Morning News > KATZ: Donnelly's Mourdock Moment?

KATZ: Donnelly's Mourdock Moment?

Indiana was looking for a "Did They Just Say That?" moment. Democrat Joe Donnelly may have met the moment.

(Photo Credit: Screenshot)

In Indiana, the "Mourdock Moment" has become a meme. It refers to a gaffe made of such surreal proportions that it will affect the result of an election, or public perception. It comes from Republican Richard Mourdock during his run for senate in 2012 against now-incumbent Democrat Senator Joe Donnelly.

When asked in the debate about abortion in the case of rape or incest, Mourdock answered, “I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that’s something God intended to happen.”

Donnelly won the election. Mourdock received 44% of the vote.

Fast forward to the final Indiana senate debate in 2018 and Donnelly - who had been hoping to induce an election-changing gaffe out of GOP candidate Mike Braun (including previously calling him "more extreme" than Mourdock on abortion) - provided a gaffe that might become his "Mourdock Moment."

Answering a question about diversity, Sen. Donnelly tried to explain how diverse his own staff was. What he said, however was this:

 

 

We want everybody to have a chance in Indiana, and in America. And my offices reflect that, both on the campaign side and on the Senate side.

 

Our state director is Indian-American, but he does an amazing job. Our director of all consituent services, she's African-American, but she does an even more incredible job than you could ever imagine.

"But he does an amazing job?" "But she does an even more incredible job?"

He followed up by saying, "It isn't their race or their religion, it's the incredible person that they are. But at the same time, they have to have a chance. They have to have an opportunity. And that's my responsibility."

As I said on Twitter:

 

My tweet may turn out to be a serious understatement.

If you watched the debate, you saw that no candidate had a stellar - or even good - answer about diversity. Not even a good pivot to another subject. But Donnelly did what a guy three points down with a week to go could not do; he provided a gaffe of the kind that Never Trumpers would say is indicative of Trump supporters. Add to it Donnelly’s desire to get Braun to screw up this way, and it only compounds the gaffe.

Braun continues to lead Donnelly, within the margin of error, in all polls since mid-October.

 

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