Baldwin, Thompson square off in second Senate debate Thursday night

MADISON -- Republican Tommy Thompson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin meet for their second debate Thursday, October 18th in the race to fill Wisconsin's open U.S. Senate seat. This is the second of three debates as election day (November 6th) approaches.

Thursday night's debate in Wausau comes the day after a new poll shows the race is a dead heat less than three weeks before election day.

Thompson was governor for 14 years but hasn't been on the ballot in Wisconsin since 1998. That is the same year that Baldwin was first elected to Congress representing the Madison area.

Thompson, flanked by veterans and three Republican U.S. senators -- Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and John McCain of Arizona spoke with voters at the War Memorial in Milwaukee Thursday morning. Thompson's supporters made it clear they want Thompson to join them in Washington.

"If Tommy Thompson comes to the United States Senate I think we will have someone in the body who can reach across the aisle and solve hard problems," Sen. Graham said.

The three senators and Thompson criticized Baldwin's actions on foreign policy -- especially her votes on sanctions against Iran. They say Baldwin isn't qualified to be Wisconsin's next senator because she doesn't seem to understand how dangerous a nuclear-armed Iran would be.

"She voted this year, a couple of months ago for the sanctions, but four times before, which is really her true inclination, she voted against the sanctions," Thompson said.

Baldwin has received nearly $60,000 for her Senate bid from a group against Iranian sanctions. The left-of-center Council for a Livable World has supported the Democrat since her first congressional race in 1998.

Baldwin's spokesman John Kraus noted she has voted for sanctions as far back as 2001. He said Baldwin has a consistent record of keeping America safe from terrorists.

Baldwin supporters, including area seniors and Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate held a news conference at Milwaukee's War Memorial about a half-hour before Thompson and his supporters showed up.

The focus for the Democrats was not foreign policy -- but Medicare.

"Tommy Thompson has called himself the mastermind of the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Program. This deal included a sweetheart deal with the drug companies that made it illegal for the Medicare program to negotiate lower drug prices for Wisconsin seniors. This Bush measure wasn't paid for, increased our deficit and cost our taxpayers billions of dollars," Tate said.

Tate says Sen. McCain even criticized the deal, but wasn't doing that on Thursday. Instead, Sen. McCain said Thompson will lead in the repeal and replacement of Obamacare.

Thursday night's debate starts at 7 p.m. and is being broadcast live statewide on public television. The two are scheduled to meet for a third and final debate on Oct. 26th in Milwaukee.

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