Candidates criss-cross Wisconsin in final days of campaignWisconsin News
-- How important are swing states like Wisconsin to the presidential candidates? President Barack Obama will have visited the Badger State three times in five days by the time we cast ballots next Tuesday. And Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney appeared at the State Fair Park yesterday with U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson.
How important are swing states like Wisconsin to the presidential candidates? President Barack Obama will have visited the Badger State three times in five days by the time we cast ballots next Tuesday. And Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney appeared at the State Fair Park yesterday with U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson.
U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin is hoping to capitalize on that presence. She is scheduled to appear with the President at each of the events, including a big rally Monday in Madison where singer Bruce Springsteen is sure to help draw a big crowd. It will be Springsteen’s second politically-related show in Madison. In 2004, about 80,000 people showed up to hear “The Boss” perform with Democratic White House hopeful John Kerry. President Obama will bring more star power during his next two visits to Wisconsin as pop star Katy Perry will join Obama for a rally in Milwaukee today.
Mitt Romney chose Wisconsin to deliver what his campaign calls his closing argument to voters – that the U.S. could go into default if President Obama is re-elected on Tuesday. The Republican told a crowd of several thousand supporters in West Allis Friday that only he can work with Congress to keep a default – or another government shutdown – from happening. Romney said the Democratic president has ignored, attacked, and blamed Congress for the nation’s fiscal woes. The former Massachusetts governor said the nation’s debt ceiling would rise again under Obama – and there could be what he called “chilling” effects on the economy if that happens. Whoever’s elected on Tuesday will have to deal with what’s been called the “fiscal cliff” – a combination of spending cuts, military cuts, and tax increases scheduled to take effect January first unless Congress and the White House can stop it. Romney’s speech was made shortly after the Labor Department reported a slight increase in the nation’s unemployment rate to seven-point-nine percent. U.S. employers added 171,000 jobs in October – more than predicted – and the report said more people have started to look for work again. Romney issued a statement about the numbers, saying it’s a quote, “sad reminder that the economy is at a virtual standstill.” In his West Allis speech, Romney pushed for what he called “real change.” And he said quote, “From Day One, I will go to work to help Americans get back to work.”
Both major presidential candidates now have Green Bay Packers’ stars speaking up for them. Yesterday, Hall-of-Fame quarterback Bart Starr provided some words about leadership at a rally in West Allis where Republican Mitt Romney appeared. Yesterday, Packers’ All-Pro defensive back Charles Woodson spoke up for President Obama at his rally in Green Bay. Woodson said Obama cares for all Americans and not just a fraction – and he proved it with his politically-neutral response to victims of Superstorm Sandy along the East Coast. At the Romney event, Starr talked about a book written by his former coach Vince Lombardi called “What it Takes to Be Number-One.” Starr said the books points to excellence and integrity as major attributes – and Starr said he couldn’t think of better words to describe Romney.
Meanwhile Vice President Joe Biden gave an energetic campaign speech yesterday in Beloit, about 10 miles from where his Republican opponent Paul Ryan lives. Biden said the nation’s generous response to Hurricane Sandy victims proved what his mother told him – “out of everything bad, something good will come.” And the vice president said the same thing applies to the country as a whole. Biden said there are still significant problems with the economy but there are also quote, “gigantic opportunities for the country.” Biden told how President Obama has made economic progress. And he said Republicans, including Ryan, are focused on giving lower taxes to America’s wealthiest families – and it’s nothing new. Biden said, quote, “We’ve seen this movie before, and it ended in the Great Recession of 2008 – and I’m absolutely convinced the American people do not want to go back.” After his speech, Biden made a campaign stop in Superior as well.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson has changed his mind about wanting to make future retirees wait longer to receive Medicare health benefits – and giving less of those benefits to the rich. Last month, Thompson’s campaign issued a statement that the former governor was open to both ideas. But now, Thompson tells the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel those are no longer his positions – and he recently offered a different plan on Medicare. Thompson, who was the nation’s health secretary for four years under George W. Bush, is in a tight race with U.S. House Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Madison for the Senate seat that’s being given up by retiring Democrat Herb Kohl.
Republicans would win back control of the Wisconsin Senate on Tuesday if the party keeps all of its current seats, and wins a seat in the far north where Democrat Jim Holperin is retiring. Assembly Republican Tom Tiffany is the better-known candidate, as he runs against Democrat Susan Sommer. And according to the Madison Capital Times, even some Democratic observers expect Tiffany to win and the GOP to regain a 17-16 majority. But Republicans could get even more power if they win another seat – and because of that, both parties are zeroing in on a race in the Oshkosh-Fond du Lac area. Democrat Jessica King of Oshkosh is trying to keep the job she won 15 months ago, when voters recalled Republican Randy Hopper. Fond du Lac Alderman Rick Gudex is the GOP hopeful for that seat. If he loses, Republicans could have only a one-vote margin – and Democrats figure they could still get some of what they by appealing to moderate Republican Dale Schultz. But if Gudex wins, the GOP’s majority could be 18-15 – and if that’s the case, party leaders could push through what they want with little resistance from moderates. The Gudex-King has attracted some big outside money on both sides from groups like the Wisconsin Manufacturers-and-Commerce and the liberal Greater Wisconsin Committee. The Assembly has around a 20-vote Republican majority, and the GOP is easily expected to keep control there.
Yesterday was Governor Scott Walker’s 45th birthday – and he says he’d love nothing more than for Wisconsin to help send his fellow Republican Mitt Romney to the White House on Tuesday. Walker spoke at a rally in West Allis this morning, where Romney spelled out dire economic possibilities if President Obama is re-elected. The governor was greeted by supporters who sang “Happy Birthday.” Walker said he doesn’t want cards or gifts – he just wants volunteers to get Romney supporters to the polls on Tuesday. He joked that volunteers have no excuse to take today off, since the Wisconsin football team doesn’t play. The Badgers are on their bye week. Walker was elected governor on his 43rd birthday. He notes that he’s Wisconsin’s 45th governor – and it would great if Romney could become the nation’s 45th president.
Over 412,000 Wisconsinites have applied for absentee ballots for next Tuesday’s elections. That includes 256,000 who’ve walked into local clerks’ offices to vote early. We don’t know how this compares to the last presidential election four years ago. But director Kevin Kennedy of the state Government Accountability Board says early voting continues to be brisk. About 175,000 absentee ballots were requested within the last week. The Board will not know how many absentee ballots are actually cast until at least the Friday after the election. That’s the deadline for clerks’ offices to receive absentee ballots by mail. Those ballots must be postmarked by the end of Election Day. In-person voting ends tomorrow at the clerk’s offices. No absentee ballots are counted until Election Night, when they’re tallied at the polls along with the other ballots cast on Tuesday.