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Posted at 11:14 AM ET, 08/10/2011

Dems pounce on GOP Senator Lugar for claiming economy is “strong”

Here’s something you don’t see every day. GOP Senator Richard Lugar, who's facing a Tea Party primary, has now claimed in a new interview that the economy is “strong” and “making progress.”

And Democrats — that would be the party that controls the White House — are attacking Lugar’s quotes as a sign that he’s “out of touch.”

The odd situation is the result of the vagaries of GOP primary politics, which have ensured that the interests of national Dems dovetail with those of Tea Party Republicans. Lugar is said to be vulnerable to a challenge from Indiana state treasurer Richard Mourdock, who has the backing of the Club for Growth and Tea Party groups. Dems would like to see the Tea Party candidate win, so they are willing to adopt similar lines of criticism to those employed by the Tea Party.

Lugar’s remarks came in an interview with a local outlet just after the stock market meltdown and Standard and Poors report. “The American economy is still strong,” he said. “We’re making progress, although it’s very slow in terms of job creation.”

“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,” Lugar added.

The DSCC sends over a statement pouncing on the comments:

“After 35 years in Washington, Senator Lugar is clearly out of touch with the struggles that so many Hoosier are facing right now. 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. Senator Lugar has demonstrated exactly why even rank and file Hoosier Republicans are saying that it is time for a change. Hoosiers already knew it was time for new leadership and Senator Lugar’s remarks only reinforce that sentiment.”

Dems are hoping that Lugar’s gaffe, such as it is, will be akin to John McCain’s infamous and devastating claim in 2008 that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.”Of course, the difference now is that a Dem president is in charge of the economy, so you’d think Dems would want him to say that. But if this gaffe does damage Lugar sufficiently, it could make him even more vulnerable to his Tea Party challenger — whom Dems are hoping to face in a general election in 2012. Politics is a mighty strange business sometimes.

By  |  11:14 AM ET, 08/10/2011

 
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