9/11 becomes an issue in race for Wisconsin's U.S. Senate seat

MADISON -- The race for Wisconsin's open U.S. Senate seat has taken a nasty turn with less than two weeks to go before voters head to the polls. The emotionally charged issued of 9/11 has taken the spotlight in the race. Republican candidate Tommy Thompson is accusing Democratic candidate Tammy Baldwin of forsaking the victims of 9/11. Baldwin says that is false, and she's hitting back.

The controversy began last week when Thompson, flanked by senators Lindsay Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona began a news conference on foreign policy with an attack of Baldwin.

"My opponent, Tammy Baldwin was one of only a handful of individuals to vote against a resolution commemorating the people at 9/11.  I don't care what your philosophy is.  That is wrong headed," Thompson said.

Baldwin did vote against a 2006 House resolution that recognized 9/11 victims -- but that's not the whole story. That resolution also included 15 "whereas" clauses -- extra statements that endorse George W. Bush's most controversial policies including the Patriot Act -- legislation that Baldwin and many Democrats opposed.

"Congressional Republicans added a bunch of measures to what had been a simple resolution honoring the victims of 9/11," Baldwin's campaign spokesman John Kraus said.

Kraus says Baldwin was put in a position to vote either for the resolution praising the controversial legislation or against the resolution and look like she doesn't support 9/11 victims.

"Desperate people do desperate things, so Tommy Thompson tried to question Tammy Baldwin's patriotism and love of America," Kraus said.

On Tuesday, October 23rd, Thompson began airing an ad regarding this issue, saying Baldwin's vote is "a slap in the face to every one of the families that served in the military."

"The Thompson ad is as disgusting as it is dishonest," Kraus said.

Now, Baldwin is hitting back with an ad of her own, saying: "Tommy Thompson's ad is a disgrace. Time and again (Baldwin) has supported honoring victims."

The Thompson campaign says the ad is a legitimate look at Baldwin's record, but Baldwin's campaign sees it as something else.

"This is the tipping point in the race for Tommy Thompson's desperate campaign.  It's a dishonest ad. As other people said, it's a dishonest ad. I think Wisconsin voters will see it for what it is," Kraus said.

Mahlon Mitchell, the head of the Wisconsin Firefighters Union condemned the Thompson ad as a disgrace to the memories of first responders. Wednesday, the head of the Milwaukee Firefighters Union offered an endorsement of Thompson.