By Bob Scott
February 22, 2012
U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly ate a bowl of soup and a sandwich Tuesday at Alley Oops restaurant in Star Lanes. The 2nd District congressman deftly answered questions from six tablemates.
Donnelly visited Lafayette as part of this week's "kitchen table" tour to bring attention to his campaign. He's the only person seeking the Democratic Party's nomination to run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Richard Lugar. Richard Mourdock is battling Lugar for the GOP nomination. Indiana's primary election will be held on May 8.
On Monday, Donnelly was in Jeffersonville, Evansville and Indianapolis. He made stops Tuesday in Terre Haute, Lafayette and Hammond. Today, he'll be in South Bend, Kokomo, Muncie and Fort Wayne.
"The wisdom in our country and wisdom in our state comes from people like you," he told the small group of invitees.
Donnelly, 56, reiterated his campaign themes -- jobs for Hoosiers, tax relief for working families, helping veterans and supporting the Keystone XL oil pipeline project.
The congressman also said he wants a more equitable tax code. "It makes no sense that some millionaires have a lower tax rate than Lafayette firefighters," he said.
As a member of the Blue Dog Coalition in Congress, Donnelly stressed that he doesn't always back President Barack Obama. Blue Dog Democrats are cast as socially liberal and fiscally conservative.
"I've been brought to the White House and the president says, 'I need your help,' " Donnelly said. "My job isn't to make him happy, but to work for the people. If he's right, I'll vote with him. If he's wrong, I won't.
"I had a job before I was elected, and I'll have a job when I leave office."
Donnelly called himself the "hired help" working for Hoosiers. "I'm not going to change who I am just to stay in office," he said.
Jane Boswell of Lafayette said she was impressed with Donnelly's intelligence and listening skills. She had never met him until Tuesday. "I appreciated the fact that he is a big-picture guy," she said.
After eating lunch, Donnelly looked at the bowling lanes and smiled. "I know I'm a better bowler than President Obama," he said. During the 2008 presidential campaign, the president bowled a 37 in Pennsylvania.