Baldwin, Thompson tangle in Wausau debate
by Glen Moberg
Wisconsin Public Radio
WAUSAU - Republican Tommy Thompson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin clashed over President Obama's health care overhaul law, the future of Medicaid, and other matters in a debate last night in Wausau. Thompson accusing Democrat Baldwin of wanting a government takeover of health care.
"She does not believe that Obamacare went far enough.," he said. "She said it many times. She wants the federal government, ladies and gentlemen, to run your health care program. Now, I don't think anybody in America would like to see us take the same kind of program that Canada has and run it."
Baldwin accused Thompson of wanting to do away with Medicare, referring to the Republican's own words at a campaign event.
"It's a program that I think isn't just a program, but it's a promise, and one that I vow to keep," she said. "We need to strengthen and extend the solvency of Medicare, not voucherize it or do away with it as Tommy Thompson said himself."
Thompson accused Baldwin of cutting $716 billion from Medicare for the President's Affordable Care Act. Baldwin said Thompson wasn't telling the truth.
"We did not change one guaranteed benefit in Medicare, in fact we strengthened it," she said, to which Thompson replied, "You took $716 billion dollars out of Medicare and now it's going to go bankrupt."
Baldwin replied that the AARP says the allegation isn't true.
Iran also a flashpoint
Thompson also accused Baldwin of voting against sanctions in Iran, and then taking campaign donations from a pro Iranian group. "My opponent voted against sanctions in 2001, 2001, 2009, 2010 and received $60,000 from an organization that supports Iran," he said.
Baldwin said she was trying to facilitate regime change from within the country. And then she dropped her own bombshell about stock owned by Thompson. "You have tens of thousands of dollars in investments in companies that do business with Iran including a company that teams up with Iran doing uranium mining in Africa," she said.
Thompson said he got rid of the stock as soon as he found out about it that day.
The sometimes-angry tone of the debate got mixed reviews from the audience. "I thought Tommy was a bit of a bully, and rude at times but it was a very interesting debate," said Diane Sem of Wausau, a Baldwin supporter.
"I thought it was a pretty good debate," said Tyler Clark of Appleton, who supports Thompson. "I thought Tommy was a lot more aggressive than Tammy, she was kind of laid back a little, but Tommy was on the attack."
Samy Aberdeen of Wausau said the negative back and forth obscured the truth. "We as voters we really did not get to know the truth," he said. "Negativity, and then we don't know the truth about it. It's confusing."
Last night's debate was sponsored by Wisconsin Public Radio and Television, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, and WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee. Thompson and Baldwin face each other one more time before the election: October 26th in Milwaukee.