In speaking about U.S. defense, Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock told the Times of Northwest Indiana that “There's always going to be a lot of duplication. We look today at the historical setup of Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard. There's a lot of duplication and bureaucracy right there. In the 21st century, is that necessary? I'm not sure that it is.”

Dick Lugar, Mourdock's campaign opponent, pounced on the issue. In a statement released Monday, the Lugar campaign said there was a “key question” to ask Mourdock: “Which military branch do you think is no longer necessary in the 21st century -- the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard?”

In an email to THE WEEKLY STANDARD, Mourdock spokesman Chris Conner responded: "ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!! HE DOES NOT BELIEVE IN ELIMINATING A BRANCH OF THE MILITARY!" Conner also said the criticism from Lugar is a “desperate, last-ditch attempt by a dying campaign.”

“Mourdock strongly supports all the branches of the US military,” Conner continued, noting that Mourdock has a niece serving in Afghanistan along with her husband, as well as parents who were Navy veterans of World War II. “Richard was simply raising the question of whether there is duplication of efforts among the services that might be made more efficient in order to save tax dollars.”

Asked to follow up on how Mourdock would make the military more efficient if he were in the Senate, Conner replied, “Richard intends to make a complete review of the federal budget in order to cull out wasteful spending. A good first step would be to eliminate Congressional earmarks so that projects, including defense contracts, are awarded based on merit, not the clout of a particular Member of Congress.”

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