Senator Lugar Speaks About Souder, Oil Spill, and Immigration

By Megan Trent

June 18, 2010 Updated May 24, 2010 at 12:43 PM EDT

MANCHESTER, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) - Indiana's senior Senator has broken his silence about Congressman Mark Souder's resignation almost one week ago. Now Republican Senator Lugar is saying what the episode might mean for November's elections.

We caught up to six term U.S. Senator Richard Lugar just before he spoke to a crowd of graduates at Manchester College's 121st commencement Sunday afternoon.

In addition to giving the keynote address, the 78-year-old former two-term Mayor of Indianapolis also received an honorary doctorate from the college.

But this isn’t the Senator’s first time at Manchester. He spoke at the 1970 commencement ceremony, and he competed there as a teenager.

“I’m deeply honored to be back on the campus of Manchester,” Lugar said. “I started here as a debater at Shortridge High School. We won the state championship. So I have sentimental memories. That was only about 60 years ago, but who’s counting?”

After the Senator’s speech, almost two-hundred Manchester graduates walked across the stage to receive their degrees.

While talking to Senator Lugar, we asked him about Souder's scandal and resignation last week.

"It's a tragedy Mark Souder has resigned, but it was the appropriate thing to do. It does create the question of representation for a period of time, which is a serious question. But it appears to me right now that there are a large number of candidates suggesting themselves. I think this is best sorted out by the precinct committeeman, and then finally the voters of the district."

We also asked him about the BP oil spill crisis. He said the government is on the frontier of learning how to meet a catastrophe like this head on.

He said he doesn’t think the government wants to get into the business of managing oil companies, and getting caught up in every choice they make, but he does agree that there should be better safety measures in place to prevent accidents and more easily clean up and manage an accident if it does happen.

On the topic of illegal immigration, we asked about his reaction to the new law in Arizona. He said he did not think it would work here. Lugar said unless local governments are willing to significantly increase taxes to help pay for the added expenses that come with increasing law enforcement on such a large level... then it's best to let the federal government deal with illegal immigration legislation.

However, the Senator points out that he has been involved with many federal measures aimed at reducing illegal immigration.

“A national law has been tough to do. I’ve supported various efforts, and I’ll continue to do that. But for the moment, politically, a good number of people who may be in both parties are not prepared to advance general immigration legislation this year feeling that already so many controversies are out there and this may be one too many.”

He continues by saying he doesn’t think that means reform should come to a halt. He says he has pushed for and sponsored several smaller measures that would still make a significant difference such as the Ag Jobs Bill, which focuses on immigrant workers in agricultural jobs.

Senator Lugar was elected to a sixth term in 2006, so he won’t be running for a seventh term until 2012. But a junior Senator’s position is a highly envied spot going into November’s elections.

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