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Government and Political Roundup: Ryan visiting Minnesota again

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Republican Paul Ryan is about to make his second visit in a week to neighboring Minnesota - a traditional Democratic stronghold where the presidential race has gotten close. A recent poll by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune shows that President Obama's lead over Mitt Romney has been cut from eight points last month to three last weekend at 47-to-44 percent. Ryan appeared in Saint Paul on Tuesday night - and Romney's running mate from Janesville is planning to speak a rally on Sunday at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. When Minnesota was firmly in Obama's pocket, the state was relegated to being a spectator, while the candidates traverse the neighboring battlegrounds of Wisconsin and Iowa. Before the Star-Tribune poll came out, both the Obama and Romney campaigns said they would start running ads in Minnesota - which surprised a number of observers. Vice President Joe Biden will get news coverage from the Duluth Minnesota T-V stations today, when he campaigns in Superior. Biden is also scheduled to be in Beloit today, and Romney has a morning rally planned in West Allis.

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The two state legislators who represent Brown Deer say 12 of their colleagues were out of line for criticizing the way village police treated Brookfield spa murderer Radcliffe Haughton. The 12 lawmakers, led by Madison Assembly Democrat Terese Berceau, demanded a state investigation. They accused Brown Deer Police of violating a state law that requires an arrest during domestic abuse calls. They said Haughton should have been arrested for at least two previous incidents, including a standoff in which he apparently pointed a gun at his wife. And the legislators took Brown Deer's police chief to task for blaming the killer's wife for not being cooperative enough with officers. Assembly Republican Dan Knodl, who represents Brown Deer, called the letter from the 12 lawmakers inappropriate - especially while Haughton's murder victims are still grieving. Senate Republican Alberta Darling said she wants to get to the bottom of the matter - but she called her colleagues' letter a "knee-jerk" reaction. Knodl said Brown Deer officials are discussing the matter internally, and he expects action. The police chief has asked the state Justice Department for extra training for domestic abuse cases. Governor Scott Walker has called for a general review of the state's abuse laws.

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Two new polls released yesterday showed Wisconsin's presidential race to be in a dead heat - while another poll gave President Obama a definitive lead. Rasmussen Reports had Obama and Republican Mitt Romney tied at 49-percent for the state's 10 electoral votes. Another poll by N-B-C News, the Wall Street Journal, and Marist College had Obama leading 49-46 - exactly at the poll's three-point margin of error, making it a statistical dead heat. Saint Norbert College of De Pere has Obama up by nine points in the Badger State, 51-to-42 percent. That poll surveyed the smallest number of people among the three surveys - 402 - with a five-percent error margin. The Marquette Law School poll from earlier this week had Obama pulling out to an eight-point edge. Both campaigns see Wisconsin as a "must state" in order to win the presidency on Tuesday - and they're proving it with their numerous campaign visits. The Democrat Obama was in Green Bay yesterday - and he plans to visit Milwaukee tomorrow and Madison on Monday. Romney has a rally planned this morning at State Fair Park in West Allis. It's his only planned Wisconsin appearance down the stretch, but his running mate - Janesville's Paul Ryan - made numerous stops around the state this week. Vice President Joe Biden is due in Beloit and Superior today. Former President Bill Clinton spoke at the two-year U-W college in Waukesha yesterday. He praised Obama for trying to get a strong government and a strong private economy to work together.

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Three new polls released yesterday show that Wisconsin's U-S Senate race has returned to being a dead heat. A poll of 750 likely voters by Rasmussen Reports shows that Republican Tommy Thompson leads Democrat Tammy Baldwin 48-to-47 percent. An N-B-C News-Wall Street Journal-Marist College poll of over a-thousand voters also shows a 48-47 margin - but for Baldwin. And a Saint Norbert College survey of 402 adults gives Thompson a 46-to-43 edge. All three results were within the margins of error. A Marquette Law School poll released Wednesday had Baldwin with a definitive 47-43 lead - and it showed greater support from independents, plus a majority of early voters. Meanwhile, the candidates are putting-on-the-miles as they make their last minute pitches around the state. Baldwin has been speaking at appearances by her fellow Democrats at the top of the ticket. She appeared at President Obama's rally in Green Bay yesterday, and will be with Vice President Joe Biden today in Beloit and Superior. Baldwin continued to blast Thompson and Republican Mitt Romney for paying lower tax rates than most middle class workers. Thompson campaigned in the Milwaukee area. Instead of attacking Baldwin, the former governor vowed to improve the tax climate so companies don't have to be skittish about creating jobs. Thompson plans a 10-city tour of Wisconsin over the next three days.

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At least three employers in southeast Wisconsin have told workers they might lose some of their benefits if Republican Mitt Romney is not elected president on Tuesday. A lawsuit has been filed against Rite-Hite of Milwaukee, after its founder told employees to understand the "personal consequences" if President Obama is re-elected and raises taxes. Now, the Journal Sentinel says Milwaukee's Land Title Services has told its employees it would end pay raises adopted in January if its gets squeezed by higher taxes. And Jockey International of Kenosha admits telling workers that the Obama health reforms would quote, "further challenge companies such as Jockey to continue to offer affordable medical coverage plans." Citizen Action of Wisconsin has filed suit against Rite-Hite's owner, saying he broke a state law against bosses making any comments that can be construed as threats if employees don't vote a certain way. Rite-Hite has not commented. National media reports say the U-S Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision has given employers more power to discuss election consequences with their workers. U-W Madison political scientist Ken Mayer says the Rite-Hite case does not appear to break state law. But he can't blame employees for getting nervous when they're told such things. He says he's seeing nothing close to coercion - which he says would be a serious crime.

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