Baldwin calls herself progressive in debate
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican Tommy Thompson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin tried to portray themselves as moderates in their third and final debate Friday night in their tight race to fill Wisconsin’s open U.S. Senate seat.
Seated next to each other at a round table at the Marquette University Law School, Thompson and Baldwin were pressed by moderator and veteran journalist Mike Gousha to detail their plans for the economy and accusations made by each campaign.
Polls show the race to be a dead heat. The seat has been in Democratic hands since 1957, but it’s open this year due to the retirement of Sen. Herb Kohl. It’s viewed as a major pick-up opportunity for Republicans as they try to win control of the Senate.
Thompson has tried to portray Baldwin as a liberal too extreme for Wisconsin. When asked why she doesn’t embrace her record, which has resulted in her being ranked as one of the most liberal members of Congress, Baldwin described herself as a “proud progressive.” Baldwin said she is focused on working for the middle class.
Thompson was asked about comments he made during the hard-fought Republican primary that he was more conservative than his opponents tried to portray him. Thompson backed away from those comments Friday.
“I’ve always been a moderate conservative,” he said.
The “Tommy vs. Tammy” race in Wisconsin is the most expensive Senate contest in the state’s history with spending from the candidates and outside groups topping $48 million.
Baldwin, 50, has represented the Madison area in Congress since 1999. Thompson, 70, was first elected to the state Legislature in 1966 and served as governor from 1987 until 2001. He also served four years as U.S. health secretary under then-President George W. Bush before leaving to work in the private sector, primarily for a powerful Washington law firm and a variety of health companies.