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Indiana Democrats Say They're Optimistic In Race For U.S. Senate Seat


Political candidates are delivering their closing statements all over the country today.


TED CRUZ: We know the far-left is angry, and they are coming after jobs. They are coming after freedom. They are coming after security.


JENNIFER WEXTON: My campaign is about hope and change, and that's what we need to get back to in this country.

CHANG: That was Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Virginia Democrat and congressional hopeful Jennifer Wexton with two very different messages for voters.


At stake tomorrow - control of Congress and dozens of governorships. The winners will get to make crucial decisions on issues like health care and immigration and the Russia investigation. We have been looking closely today at what that means to voters in a number of states.

CHANG: We turn now to Indiana and its very close Senate race. President Trump and former President Obama were there this weekend to stump for their party's respective candidates. We've got Republican businessman Mike Braun challenging the Democratic incumbent, Senator Joe Donnelly. With us now to talk about the race and the main issues driving it is the chairman of the Indiana State Democratic Party, John Zody. Welcome.

JOHN ZODY: Thank you.

CHANG: I understand you're joining us from a bus right now. Where are you?

ZODY: We're on I-65 headed to Fort Wayne, Ind. I'm on the bus with our statewide ticket, which includes Senator Donnelly and volunteers and others.

CHANG: So what steps are you making on this last day of campaigning?

ZODY: We started in South Bend. I got on the bus in Kokomo, Ind., and we've been to Anderson, Muncie. We're headed to Fort Wayne. Then we're going to go to Rochester, Ind., and then back up to South Bend.

CHANG: So how confident are you about Joe Donnelly's chances at winning a second term in the Senate?

ZODY: Well, we're confident in his closing argument and, in that - brings lots of voters out. We've got lines out the door in a lot of parts of the state, and I think it's because people are looking at - Joe Donnelly's main closing argument is of course talking about health care and protecting people with pre-existing conditions and not leading to a point where our deficit is going to get such that we need to cut Medicare and Social Security, which is what the Republicans are talking about doing.

CHANG: So health care, you feel, has been the top issue for many voters this election in Indiana.

ZODY: Yes, yes, a hundred percent.

CHANG: How do you feel the conversation about the Affordable Care Act has changed in Indiana compared to the last midterm in 2014?

ZODY: Well, I think when you see people you know, your family or your neighbors - there are 1.1 million people under the age of 65 here in Indiana that live with a pre-existing condition, myself included.

And so just briefly, there's a family in South Bend, Ind., whose triplets - if they ask you - I talked to them yesterday - and they say, my children are alive because of the Affordable Care Act. Their kids were in the NICU for three months. They were born at 28 weeks. And their medical bills were millions of dollars. And because of the Affordable Care Act, they were able to make health care choices because they had coverage. And they've seen a lot of people who couldn't. Those stories have become just more compelling and more evident as the years have gone by with ACA, and I think people are realizing that even more so now than ever.

CHANG: But Donnelly's opponent, Mike Braun, has said that he would support protecting pre-existing conditions, though he would favor repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act with more of a marketplace space system.

ZODY: Well, you can't have it both ways. Mike Braun has said he supports repealing the Affordable Care Act - every word of it, can't point to one plan he would actually support that would keep those protections in place.

CHANG: You know, the Indianapolis Star says the choice here in this Senate race is between a candidate who will vote with President Trump nearly all of the time or someone who will back him most of the time. Is that a fair characterization of Joe Donnelly? I mean, how do you read his voting history when you compare it with President Trump's policy priorities?

ZODY: When he agrees with the president, he will vote with him. When he disagrees, if he doesn't think it's the right thing to do for the state, he won't. And I think we saw that with the tax plan that is now increasing our deficit by $2 trillion. But yet he's supported other measures. He's had 28 pieces of legislation signed into law by this president, so he's willing to work across the aisle and be bipartisan. And I think people in Indiana appreciate that.

CHANG: That's Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody riding a bus through northeastern Indiana. Thank you very much.

ZODY: All right, thank you - appreciate it.

CHANG: And elsewhere in the program, we hear from a Republican state party chairman, Scott Golden of Tennessee. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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