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Key Obama Ally To Make Senate Fundraising Trip To Indiana

Sen. Dick Durbin to stump for Democrat Joe Donnelly, hoping to take advantage of Republican Richard Mourdock's controversial rape comments.

Posted on October 26, 2012, at 12:39 p.m. ET

Win McNamee / Getty Images

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin is making a last minute fundraising push for Indiana Senate candidate Joe Donnelly in an effort to put the one tim-long shot Democrat over the hump in his campaign against Republican Richard Mourdock.

Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate and one of President Obama’s closest allies in Washington, will headline a fundraiser Monday afternoon in Indianapolis for Donnelly, according to a Democratic aide.

His trip with less than 10 days before election day is a clear signal that party leaders believe they have a prime opportunity to pick up what had once been seen as a likely Republican seat. Mourdock — a Tea Party conservative who beat moderate Republican Senator Richard Lugar in the primary — committed a major unforced error during a debate Tuesday when he said he opposes abortion rights for rape victims because God “intended” in some sense for them to bear a child.

Since then, Democrats have pounced: the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has put new resources into the race and even the Obama campaign has latched onto the comments to hit Mitt Romney.

Durbin had initially been scheduled to stop in Indianapolis following the vice presidential debate earlier this month in Kentucky. But a campaign stop by former President Bill Clinton ended that plan.

But with Mourdock's controversial statements on rape and abortion now threatening to derail his campaign, Durbin believes there’s “extra urgency” to help Donnelly in the waning days of the election, the aide said.

Durbin is “making a last fundraising push for Donnelly now that Mourdock's on the ropes, no doubt,” the aide explained, noting that the veteran Senate Democrat will likely use his trip to also hammer Mourdock for his comments in the local media.