Sen. Landrieu hits the ground running for runoff

Sen. Landrieu hits the ground running for runoff

It was the morning after control of the U.S. Senate was decided, and Sen. Mary Landrieu arrived at the site of the new VA Medical Center where news cameras and reporters were waiting.

Landrieu, a Democrat, has served three terms in the Senate and was forced into a runoff with Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy. She is aggressively attacking Cassidy's record.

"When this hospital needed a champion to build and rebuild, literally out of the rubble of Katrina and Rita, where was Senator Landrieu? Standing here and fighting. Where was Bill?" asked Landrieu.

Landrieu said while she fought for federal dollars for the project, Cassidy who was a state senator, opposed the proposed new LSU and VA hospitals.

"Congressman Bill Cassidy voted against this hospital for veterans. He voted against this hospital. He said we couldn't afford it, it was too expensive. Let me tell Bill Cassidy something, these veterans deserve our very best," said Landrieu turning to the veterans standing behind her.

As the sole remaining Democrat holding statewide office in Louisiana, political pundits said Landrieu faces a difficult challenge in the Dec. 6 runoff.

"It's an uphill battle for her to be re-elected," said UNO Political Scientist Ed Chervenak, Ph.D.

He said this runoff is more likely to attract what he calls "chronic" voters.

"What we find is that these voters tend to be older, whiter and they lean more Republican," he said.

During the primary, Cassidy painted Landrieu as a Democrat who put President Obama's interests ahead of the people she represents.

"On the economy, as she has supported every one of President Obama's appointees who seek to choke off our oil and gas jobs with taxes and regulations," Cassidy said during his election night speech.

The tenor of his speech indicated his runoff strategy will include part of his primary approach, which was to tie Landrieu to the president at every opportunity.

"It's going to come down to one fundamental issue, do you want a senator who represents Barack Obama? No. Or a senator who represents you?" Cassidy said to applause.

And GOP officials in Louisiana believe Landrieu is at a significant disadvantage because she has no other statewide Democrats to boost her ground war during the runoff.

"We have people that are going to get out the vote like never before that have won statewide. ...She's had statewide Democratic elected officials that have helped put her teams together. She doesn't have that anymore," said Roger Villere, chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party.

Landrieu was asked about that during one of the press events.

"We're still in this fight," she said. "We're still standing and we're going to run on a record."

Landrieu is reaching out to Republicans who did not vote for Cassidy.

"I'm asking those who voted with Col. Maness, those that stayed home and those that even voted with Bill Cassidy because they were mad at someone else, not me, but someone else - to look again," she said.

Later Wednesday, Landrieu was in a St. John Parish neighborhood with some homeowners at her side. She highlighted her role in getting federal funds for disaster victims after Hurricane Isaac, but said Cassidy voted against assistance for people in the River Parishes.

"Where was Congressman Cassidy when Isaac hit and the supplemental bill was moving through the House and the Senate? I'll tell you where he was, he wasn't standing up for the voters here in LaPlace, in this neighborhood, because he voted no against the Isaac supplemental," said Landrieu.

Louisiana's senior senator is in full fight mode as she faces a runoff that some say will be her toughest race yet.

"This is the time for Bill Cassidy to stand up and talk about his own pitiful record, not about the president's record, not about Mitch McConnell's record, not about Harry Reid's record, not about the Republican Party or the Democratic Party, Bill, it's time for you to stand up," Landrieu said.

Landrieu has challenged Cassidy to six debates. Cassidy did not respond to requests for comment on Landrieu's statements.

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