Dick Lugar spokesman says national tea party makes Richard Mourdock competitive in Indiana

"Lugar's been in Washington 36 years--it's too long. Time for a change," the ad's narrator says.

But Lugar's longtime service creates many advantages in a campaign, including strong ties to fellow lawmakers like Mitch Daniels, the popular governor of Indiana who endorsed Lugar and is appearing in campaign ads for him.

Mourdock, in his interview with Yahoo News, downplayed the endorsement and said it amounts to one establishment Republican endorsing another. But Fisher said Tuesday that the endorsement carries significant weight.

"Governor Daniels is the most popular politician in the state right now ... and he's been a very effective governor. Having his support is very important," Fisher said.

Lugar's campaign is combating Mourdock's attacks by touting Lugar as the reason Democrats supported conservative Justice John Roberts' nomination to the Supreme Court, noting his opposition to Obamacare and other items on the White House agenda, and arguing that regardless of who wins the presidency in November, Lugar is the right man for Indiana.

"Our point of view gets heard and has a better chance to win out with Dick Lugar on the job," Daniels says in a currently-airing radio and television ad campaign for the Senator.

Lugar's campaign has spent more than $4 million on the race as of Mar. 31 and Mourdock has spent $1.7 million, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. Lugar reported $2.5 million remaining on hand at that time, compared to $436,000 for Mourdock.

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