Cabinet secretary fires up local team during visit
JANESVILLE The event was billed as a Packers-watching party for Democratic Party activists. Even the featured guest, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, was scheduled to watch the game.
She didn't. The game was turned off as she spoke, and the party faithful didn't seem to mind.
In fact, the 55 or so people who crammed into the downtown Democratic campaign headquarters cheered heartily when their leaders were introduced.
Deb Kolste, who is running to unseat Republican Joe Knilans from his 44th District Assembly seat, was cheered as if she was the Packers' Jordy Nelson.
When Sebelius mentioned Tammy Baldwin, who is running against Republican Tommy Thompson to capture Wisconsin's open U.S. Senate seat, the crowd cheered as if Charles Woodson had intercepted a pass.
"Quarterback" Barack Obama wasn't there, of course, but Sebelius stood in for him and was warmly received.
Still, all was not warm and fuzzy. As Sebelius worked the room, one woman had advice for the president's next debate: "He needs to hit a little bit harder … because (Mitt) Romney doesn't play by the rules."
Sebelius said she would pass the message along, and during her talk, she took the Republican presidential contender to task. She said that Romney had said things in the debate "that were just flat out not true" regarding, among other things, Medicare and Romney's own tax plan.
"You heard one specific that night: He would go after Big Bird. We don't want to get tough on Wall Street, but we're going to crack down on 'Sesame Street,'" Sebelius cracked.
Asked afterward whether a different president would show up at the next debate, Sebelius was not about to admit what many on both sides of the aisle have said—that the president performed poorly.
"I think you'll see a president who forcefully stands up for what he has been saying to the American people all along," she said. "I think he had a very clear presentation of his views and beliefs. I think what you saw is a Mitt Romney who suddenly pivoted from what he's been saying for the last year and a half and became a very different person and certainly won points on style, but I think the substance of what he said is just not very accurate, and I think there'll be a lot of time in the next 30 days to actually correct that for the American public."