Wisconsin's U.S. Senate candidates discuss gas prices

BROWN DEER -- Rising gas prices dominated the discussion on the campaign trail Monday, as candidates for Wisconsin's soon-to-be-open U.S. Senate seat debated the nation's energy policy.

Gas prices have increased for each of the last 27 days, and Former Governor Tommy Thompson used the backdrop of a Brown Deer gas station Monday to outline a three-point energy policy that he says would keep prices low. Thompson says the U.S. must drill more inside the country, approve the keystone pipeline, which would run oil from Canada through western states, and oppose new environmental regulations.

"Each one of those pillars on top of one another can make American energy independent," Thompson said.

Thompson is running in the primary for U.S. Senate against Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald and former Congressman Mark Neumann. "The energy crisis facing America today - it threatens our national security. It certainly is harmful to our economy. We need a big-picture energy plan that literally ends our dependence on foreign oil from countries that are run by tyrants who really wish to kill Americans, and I think we also have to remember that this economy cannot prosper with $4-per-gallon gasoline," Neumann said.

The state Democratic Party asserted Thompson's ties to oil companies are behind his energy proposals. "Tommy Thompson has not disclosed ties to the corporations he has ties with. He's getting rich off of these things," Democratic Party Spokesman Graeme Zielinski said.

Thompson laughed at this criticism. "I would say that the state Democratic Party really doesn't have much to do anymore in the state of Wisconsin, if that's what they are saying," Thompson said.

"Tommy Thompson in the tank for big oil - that's the real laughter here," Zielinski retorted.

"If the Democrats want to try and throw some obfuscation and ridiculous claims like that, let them do it. It doesn't mean anything to me because it doesn't have anything to do with what I'm doing. Nothing I'm doing is going to benefit companies as much as it's going to benefit America, and if the Democrats want to send that money with Obama to Saudi Arabia, I would say that's a pretty dumb stance," Thompson said.

Jeff Fitzgerald was campaigning in Fond du Lac and could not be reached for comment Monday.

Tammy Baldwin is the only Democrat in the running for Wisconsin's U.S. Senate seat.