Baldwin jabs Thompson, GOP in speech
MADISON U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin used her speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday to take aim at prominent Wisconsin Republicans, saying they don’t really know the state and only candidates like her will fight for the middle class.
Baldwin was given a brief but prime speaking slot just hours before President Barack Obama, and she used the national spotlight to outline her campaign platform and introduce herself to a broader audience, telling the crowd: “I want you to hear about the Wisconsin I know.”
The seven-term congresswoman from Madison said that in her Wisconsin, “we believe in hard work … give our workers a fair shot, and we’ll compete against anyone.” She accused Republicans of wanting to “give up on our manufacturing sector.”
Baldwin is well known in her congressional district but not statewide. The most recent poll in mid-August had her trailing her Republican opponent, former longtime Gov. Tommy Thompson, by 9 points. But it also showed 31 percent of voters didn’t know her well enough to form an opinion.
Baldwin took a specific jab during her speech at Thompson, who worked as an attorney for a lobbying firm, saying he “went to Washington, cashed in on his special interest connections and never really came back.”
Wisconsin Democrats have been in the shadow of the state’s Republicans after GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney tagged Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate, and Gov. Scott Walker survived his recall election in June.
Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, is also from Wisconsin and was in the national spotlight last week as organizer of their convention.
Baldwin’s speech came on the biggest night of the Democratic convention and highlighted the importance of her race as Democrats try to maintain the majority in the Senate. Republicans need to pick up four seats to take control, or just three if Romney is elected president.
Thompson, who was first elected to the Wisconsin Legislature in 1966 and served 14 years as governor, wasn’t given a speaking slot at the GOP convention. Still, he’s never lost a statewide election and in May survived a four-way Republican primary to face Baldwin, who had no opponent.
Thompson, 70, left the governor’s office in 2001 and served four years as then-President George W. Bush’s health secretary. After that, he worked as an attorney for a prominent Washington lobbying and law firm before returning to Wisconsin for the Senate race.
Baldwin, 50, was the first openly gay candidate to win election to the House in 1998. She seeks to become the first openly gay candidate elected to the Senate, and the first female senator from Wisconsin.