South Bend Tribune: Donnelly kicks off Senate campaign in South Bend

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By Kevin Allen

February 23, 2012

SOUTH BEND — U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly says he gains a lot more wisdom in Indiana than he does in Washington.

That’s why the Democratic congressman tries to make it home to Granger every weekend.

And that’s why he’s drawing attention to his U.S. Senate campaign this week by visiting mom-and-pop diners throughout the state.

“For six years now, I’ve traveled around our district and gone to the local restaurants and fish fries,” Donnelly said Wednesday morning at The Original Pancake House on North Ironwood Drive.

“I represent working families, and this is where you see everybody,” he said. “It’s a chance to find out back home exactly what everybody thinks are the most important things to be working on for our country.”

Donnelly began his “kitchen table tour” Monday in Jeffersonville, followed by stops in Evansville and Indianapolis. He visited Terre Haute, Lafayette and Hammond on Tuesday.

He had breakfast with seven local residents here Wednesday before heading to Kokomo, Muncie and Fort Wayne.

A young couple at the Pancake House talked about the challenges young people face because of the rising cost of education and the burden graduates bear from student loan debt.

One business owner told Donnelly the economy is recovering — the proof is in the product orders she sees coming in — but obstacles remain in a shortage of skilled labor and complex government regulations and tax rules.

Donnelly said the government’s role in the economy should be like that of an umpire in a baseball game.

“We need to be there to make sure the game is played right,” he told the group, “but we want to stay as far out of the way as possible.”

Donnelly is the only Democrat who filed for the Senate race, so the two Republican candidates probably will attract most of the attention leading up to the May 8 primary.

State Treasurer Richard Mourdock is challenging incumbent Sen. Richard Lugar in the GOP primary.

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