Madison Politiscope: No clear winner in Tammy-Tommy debate

2012-09-29T07:45:00Z 2012-09-29T07:50:30Z Madison Politiscope: No clear winner in Tammy-Tommy debateJACK CRAVER | The Capital Times |

In their first head-to-head debate, neither Tammy Baldwin or Tommy Thompson struck me as a clear winner. Stylistically, both were mediocre. Thompson misspoke on a number of occasions, using the wrong word or seemingly skipping words. And Baldwin, who has never been a fiery speaker, probably said "um" more times than she would have liked.

But a candidate does not enter a debate hoping to win high marks from a high school speaking coach. He or she aims to communicate a message and a personality that appeals to the few undecided voters who remain. To that end, both candidates made a number of key points.


"I have taken on powerful interests on behalf of ordinary citizens. My opponent has taken on powerful special interests as clients," she said in her opening statement.

Whereas she is an advocate for the middle class, she said Thompson has sold out to represent powerful, monied interests, particularly health insurance companies and pharmaceutical firms.

Furthermore, Thompson's advocacy for such interests has cost U.S. taxpayers, she said, pointing, for instance, to his role in creating a costly new prescription drug benefit, Medicare Part D, which forbids the federal government from negotiating with drug companies over the price of prescription medicine for Medicare beneficiaries.

"There's two sets of rules for the road," Baldwin said. "One set for the well-off and well-connected and one for the rest of us."

Reforming the tax code has been a major focus of Baldwin's populist campaign. She often cites her sponsorship of the "Buffett Rule," a proposed bill that would required those making over a million dollars a year to pay at least 30 percent in taxes.

"The last thing we need going forward is for Tommy Thompson and others to rip up the Affordable Care Act."

Like many Democrats, including the president, Baldwin is not running away from "Obamacare," as polls indicate Americans are warming to the initiative, and Republicans have struggled to offer an articulate alternative.

"(Medicare) is something I regard as more than a program but a promise and one that we must keep. My opponent supports a plan to end Medicare as we know it, to instead give seniors vouchers that outside, nonpartisan analysts have said will increase out-of-pocket expenses for seniors over the first decade by up to $6,000. And I know very few Wisconsin seniors who can afford that sort of burden."

Preserving Medicare is one of the central themes of Baldwin's campaign and it is one of the most effective attacks against Republicans.


"Ninety percent of the people of this state know me as 'Tommy.' Not as Mr. Thompson, not as 'Governor,' not as 'Secretary,' but as Tommy."

Pushing back against his portrayal by Democrats as a Washington insider, Thompson repeatedly emphasized his attachment to his home state. He said that he has never left Wisconsin; that he even continues to farm here.

"I built Wisconsin."

The former governor has never been criticized for a lack of self-regard. Indeed, Thompson reminded voters Friday night that he created BadgerCare, a program he avoided discussing at all costs during the GOP primary race, whose electorate regards expanding social services as anything but a badge of honor.

"I cut taxes 91 times ... My opponent is a taxer and a spender."

That is a classic Republican message that more than a few swing voters like to hear.

"She doesn't have a record to run on."

Compared to him, the guy who "built Wisconsin," ("bipartisanly" [sic] no less), Thompson asserted, who is Tammy Baldwin? According to Thompson, her only accomplishment is being rated as the most liberal member of Congress.

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(16) Comments

  1. wisconsineye
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    wisconsineye - September 29, 2012 4:48 pm
    oh, ok sarge- I heard that Tammy had Barney Frank's love child. That makes as much sense as your dribble.
  2. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - September 29, 2012 4:02 pm
    "Ninety percent of the people of this state know me as 'Jeffrey.'"
    Does that sound to you like a ringing endorsement?
  3. WI_Expat
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    WI_Expat - September 29, 2012 3:01 pm
    Typical Crap Times hit piece.....shame shame shame
  4. tjamba
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    tjamba - September 29, 2012 1:23 pm
    Boy, Tommy was sure proud of his "past " accomplishments, I fear all he can do now is try and make us believe he still cares about Wisconsin,Even tho he is now a millionaire many times over and lives in Washington D.C.
  5. Bobby P
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    Bobby P - September 29, 2012 12:38 pm
    I have met and spoken with both both Thompson and Baldwin. The one thing that stands out the most to me was that Tammy always seemed to actually be talking to me... while Thompson never makes eye contact and talks at you. That always suggests what is inside a person to me as well. Thompson had his day, and its now time for a new day to begin...
  6. witness2012
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    witness2012 - September 29, 2012 12:37 pm
    I remember Tommy as governor. He was approachable, would listen to all ideas, and was a pragmatist with a lot of energy and enormous passion for his key issues.

    But, I didn't see him last night. I didn't hear any new ideas or creative solutions to some pressing problems. I just heard 'talking points". If Tommy wins the senate seat, I don't think he would be effective. He'd be a junior senator who doesn't understand the game anymore.

    Tammy, in contrast, is not a dynamic speaker, but she is in her element as a policy wonk. she came off as knowledgeable, competent, and someone familiar with the environment of congress. She'd be very effective in that role.

    Tommy should be a department head of an agency and use his abilities and decision-making skills to fix some of the current problems in Wisconsin. He'd be ideal in heading and fixing the current problems at the WEDC and I wish that is where he wanted to go. Not so much the US senate, though.
  7. voice of reason
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    voice of reason - September 29, 2012 12:24 pm
    Tommy, the father of the structural Deficit in Wisconsin......Tammy missed an opportunity.
  8. sarge
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    sarge - September 29, 2012 11:33 am
    ac tually i know him as "tommy the problem drinking pay to play womanizer" so he's technically right about the tommy part
  9. Weirdwise
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    Weirdwise - September 29, 2012 10:34 am
    Everybody lost, including the moderator and reporters who couldn't construct a direct question despite having time to prepare! If TT continues to rely on sloganeering, he is going to lose as it emphasizes how out of touch he is. Tammy looked more, and is, more knowledgeable on current policy issues, but her lack of a compelling record is her true vulnerability. Her rattling off bills she cosponsored with GOP members signed by Gov TT and Prez W was perhaps the only moment she was better than merely adequate. TT's failure to score makes this a Baldwin victory. It has been his to lose since day 1 and he is continuing to do just that by reinforcing his own negatives.
  10. Wis_taxpayer
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    Wis_taxpayer - September 29, 2012 10:01 am
    Ah classic, so your argument is against government and government employees... and unions. let's see what other public employee take your money.... um, oh yes, the Green Bay packers, the only publicly owned NFL football team. Maybe we should sell them and get rid of this scourge on our tax dollars!

    Sounds good to me!

    And to your point of out of state money... Tammy 8% out of state money, Tommy 67% out of state money. get your facts right!
  11. classic
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    classic - September 29, 2012 9:53 am
    Sorry but yes liberal is a dirty word. They have given us the lazy citizen. Government should not be taking care of every body's problems and taking my money and give it to the baby machines that (yes do exist). People like Baldwin will eventually take this country down the same road as the European countries. Broke. And by the way were is the liberal anger of all the out of state money Baldwin brings into her campaign. Amazing it is a none issue when it is a dem. such as her.
  12. Wis_taxpayer
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    Wis_taxpayer - September 29, 2012 8:41 am
    Of course it does.... that's because you live in upside down land!
  13. mschwaegerl
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    mschwaegerl - September 29, 2012 8:38 am
    We learned endlessly that Tommy cut taxes 91 times. I would have made him list every one of those cuts. Wow. That's about 7 per year, and one cut every two months. What else do we need?
  14. Renaissance Man
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    Renaissance Man - September 29, 2012 8:31 am
    Exactly! No clear winner in a Cap Times story means Tammy lost and lost big.
  15. Wis_taxpayer
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    Wis_taxpayer - September 29, 2012 8:20 am
    Tommy's attacks on Baldwin boiled down to she's a tax and spend liberal.

    Hello, this is the 21st century liberal isn't a dirty word and and neither is gay! And the old Republican talking point of tax and spend Democrat or Liberal loses it's luster after coming off of 8 years of Republicans spending the country to the edge of the cliff.

    Old arguments and old talking points from a washed up old man.

    I'm not saying Tammy far out preformed Tommy, but Tommy is clinging to the right wing ideology, he ran on Ryan's budget and pro life stance of no exceptions for abortions, and now he wants to run away from those very positions that got him the nomination.

    I'm sure his tea party supporters were not happy hearing him say he would "compromise" and "work with the other side"

    I'm also sure that the more moderate Republicans didn't like the fact that he signed the Grover Norquist pledge to never raise taxes. Tommy is coming right from lobbying to run for political office, that in itself will hurt him.

    Do we really want a lobbyist as a Wisconsin Senator?
  16. jd33
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    jd33 - September 29, 2012 8:07 am
    A cap times headline that says "no clear winner" says to me that tommy won!
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