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Mitt Romney TV ad plugs Richard Mourdock in Indiana Senate race

Mitt Romney is appearing in a TV ad for Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R), marking the first time the Republican presidential nominee has made a direct appeal for a U.S. Senate candidate over the airwaves this election cycle.

“As Senator, Richard will be the 51st vote to repeal and replace government-run health care,” Romney says in the 30-second commercial. “Richard will help stop the liberal Reid-Pelosi agenda.”

Romney also links Mourdock to popular Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R). “As state treasurer, Richard worked with Gov. Daniels to balance the budget and make government more accountable,” Romney says in the ad.

Indiana makes perfect sense as the location of Romney’s first Senate ad. It’s a state he is expected to win, and one in which Mourdock could use an extra boost to help shore up his Republican support. Polls show a tight contest there between Mourdock and Rep. Joe Donnelly (D).

Democrats have been casting Mourdock as too conservative for the state, and Sen. Richard Lugar’s (R) refusal to campaign for the candidate who defeated him in May has made it more difficult for Mourdock to court moderate Republicans and independents.  This new ad could help Republicans reduce the number of Romney voters who might be tempted to cross over for Donnelly down the ballot.

Romney and running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) have both campaigned with Mourdock. Donnelly has brought in President Bill Clinton to stump with him.