New York Times Takes Shots at Richard Mourdock Two Days in a Row: Could Cost GOP the Senate

New York Times reporter Jonathan Weisman made Friday's front page on the Republicans' uphill struggles to take over the Senate in November, and got in a second day of shots against Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock.

Yesterday Weisman suggested that Mourdock would hurt Mitt Romney. Today Weisman focused on Mourdock hurting GOP chances to take over the Senate: "Bad Luck and Missteps Make G.O.P.’s Senate Climb Steeper."

The Indiana Senate candidate Richard E. Mourdock’s reintroduction of rape and abortion into the political dialogue this week is the latest in a series of political missteps that have made the Republican quest to seize control of the Senate a steeper climb.

Once viewed as likely to win the Senate, Republicans are now in jeopardy of losing seats in Massachusetts and Maine. If they do, they will need to win at least five seats held by Democrats and hold three other Republican seats at risk to net the three needed to take the Senate if Mitt Romney wins the presidency.

If President Obama prevails, Republicans will have to win at least one additional seat in a state where they are seen as slightly behind -- in Connecticut, Florida, Ohio or Pennsylvania.

Weisman fingered the Tea Party for fault.

Mr. Mourdock’s comment in a debate that when conception resulted from rape it was intended by God followed Representative Todd Akin’s assertion that conception would not result from “legitimate rape.” That comment turned a Missouri Senate race that Republicans expected to win into one where the Democratic incumbent, Claire McCaskill, could survive.

The fierce battle between grass-roots conservatives and Washington power brokers that hurt Republican Senate ambitions in 2010 has also continued. Mr. Mourdock’s primary victory in May over Senator Richard G. Lugar, a six-term veteran, had already put Indiana into play before his explosive comment.

Expensive and divisive primary fights in Wisconsin and Arizona ended the way Washington Republicans wanted, with victories for former Gov. Tommy Thompson and Representative Jeff Flake. But both nominees emerged bruised and broke.

Weisman made a prediction in a tough Senate race:

Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, is also seen as having the advantage in her Massachusetts battle with Senator Scott P. Brown, a Republican.


Then there is Indiana. Mr. Mourdock’s primary victory over Mr. Lugar gave Democrats hope that the seat would be in play for Representative Joe Donnelly. The race was close for months as Mr. Donnelly tried to paint Mr. Mourdock, a Tea Party favorite, as too extreme. But as Mr. Romney solidified his lead in the state, the Senate race appeared to shift toward Mr. Mourdock.

Then at a debate on Tuesday, Mr. Mourdock tried to distinguish himself from two opponents who also oppose abortion by explaining that he does not support abortions even in the case of rape.