Mourdock repeatedly blamed Donnelly for siding with Obama on a range of issues, including the federal healthcare program known as Obamacare. Donnelly, meanwhile, seized on Mourdock's 2009 decision, made as State Treasurer, to try to block the Obama’s administrationís efforts to restructure Chrysler through tightly-controlled bankruptcy proceedings.
Mourdock called his decision to hire a law firm sue to oppose the Chrysler restructuring as “principled,” saying he did so to protect the state’s police and teacher pension funds, which had invested in Chrysler.
"I think we need to be saying here principle is more important than partisanship. We can't just have people caving in because of partisanship," Mourdock said.
Donnelly said Mourdock's principled stand almost crippled the auto industry and could have cost Indiana thousands of good-paying jobs.
“You, Mr. Mourdock, singlehandedly could have sunk Indiana’s economy and put us into a recession, if you were fortunate enough - fortunate enough for you, unfortunate for us – if you had been successful in your lawsuit in regards to Chrysler,” Donnelly said.
Horning frequently jumped into the fray, arguing the Donnelly and Mourdock were no better than "cogs in the machine" that had left the nation with massive debt.
The race for Lugar's seat in the Senate has captured national attention and brought in millions of dollars from outside groups. Recent polls show Donnelly and Lugar running almost neck-and-neck, despite poll numbers that favor other Republicans on the ticket. Much is at stake: Indiana has become a major battleground in the race for control of the U.S. Senate. Republicans need to gain four seats to take control of the Senate.
Mourdock, Donnelly and Horning will meet again in their second and final Senate debate, on Oct. 23 in New Albany.