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Lugar makes last-ditch Election Day plea for votes, rules out third-party run

"Our party, at least in Indiana, is only 35 percent of the electorate. In order for anybody to get to the majority, they're going to have to get a lot of other people. So I'm appealing to all the people of Indiana, and I emphasize all, to ask for a Republican ballot today and vote for me," Lugar said Tuesday on CNN.

A recent poll showed Lugar trailing Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who has the support of Tea Party groups, by double digits. But Lugar remained optimistic on the morning of Election Day that he would prevail.

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"We've had a very vigorous campaign, and I believe in fact we're going to win the campaign," Lugar said.

Indiana has an open primary, meaning anyone registered to vote can cast a ballot in Tuesday's Republican contest. And while Lugar remains popular statewide, the 80-year-old senator acknowledged that the money and enthusiasm had tended to favor his opponent.

"Essentially the bulk of the money that has been spent in the campaign has been spent by so-called outside interests. People have run negative ads for millions of dollars, not just the super-PACs but other well-known organizations," Lugar said.

But Lugar deferred when asked if centrists no longer had a home in the Republican Party.

"I'm not going to characterize any part of the Republican Party as marginalizing the rest," Lugar said, pivoting to say that members of the GOP "need to make sure to enlargen our party."

Lugar did, however, rule out a third-party bid such as those undertaken by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), both of whom lost primaries to less centrist challengers but ultimately prevailed in the general election.

"No, we cannot have a third-party race in Indiana. This is it, today is the day," Lugar said.