Obama, Biden lament Lugar loss as damaging to bipartisanship

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are throwing flower-wrapped bricks at the GOP this morning, following the unsurprising primary loss by six-term Republican Sen. Richard Lugar.

“While Dick and I didn’t always agree on everything… he was often willing to reach across the aisle and get things done,” said an Obama statement released Tuesday night by the White House.

“The Senate lost a brilliant strategic mind, a man with absolute integrity,” Biden’s office tweeted out May 9. “He will be missed.”

The lavish praise sets up other Democrats to slam GOP activists and their tea party allies as extremists, following the successful campaign to replace Lugar with the conservative Richard Mourdock.

Democratic partisan Paul Begala was on the job before midnight.

“With Lugar’s defeat can we finally stop repeating the dishonest trope that both parties are equally to blame for hyperpartisanship?” he tweeted out late Tuesday night. Begala is a senior adviser for Obama’s SuperPAC, Priorities USA Action.

That’s also the portrayal being pushed by Obama’s campaign, whose television attack ads feature tea party activists.

His new ad, “Go,” for example, shows a person dressed in 19th century costume — a visible feature of many tea party protests — while the announcer declares “some said out best days were behind us.”

The ad then declares that Obama trusts Americans. “He believed in us.”

Obama’s current praise for Lugar follows three years during which Obama has slammed Senate GOP members as hard-edged partisans whenever they disagreed with his priorities. Throughout the second half of 2011, for example, Obama argued that the GOP puts “party before country,” and threatened to damage the nation’s credit rating for partisan advantage.

But Obama’s election strategy seeks to portray the GOP and Gov. Mitt Romney as servants of the wealthy, indifferent to Americans’ concerns and eager to block “progress” offered by the Democrats.

Obama’s post-primary praise for Lugar helps that pitch. “My administration’s efforts to secure the world’s most dangerous weapons has been based on the work that Senator Lugar began… he comes from a tradition of strong, bipartisan leadership on national security that helped us prevail in the Cold War and sustain American leadership ever since,” he said.

“He has served his constituents and his country well, and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors,” Obama added.

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