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Wisconsin Saves America?

That’s Ryan’s hope.

Nov 5, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 08 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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And fifth, there’s Mitt Romney’s running mate, Wisconsin’s native son Paul Ryan. “I would really watch out for that First Congressional District,” which Ryan has represented for seven terms, says Priebus. “If you look at Racine and Kenosha counties and you see numbers that are markedly better than Bush in the Bush/Gore race of 2000, well, we’re going to win.” According to polls, Romney’s greatest advantage over Obama in Wisconsin is the issue of the debt. And Ryan, author of the bold entitlement-reforming budget, could help drive that issue successfully in the closing days of the campaign.

After a wild year and a half of protests in the state capital and recall elections, Wisconsin may also prove pivotal to control of the Senate.

The man Republicans are resting their hopes on is Tommy Thompson, the former four-term governor and HHS secretary under George W. Bush. Thompson started out with a double-digit lead in August over Democrat Tammy Baldwin, an extremely liberal congresswoman from Madison. As Romney slipped far behind Obama in September, though, Thompson lost his lead. He now seems to be running a point or two ahead of Baldwin in the Rasmussen and Marquette polls.

The Senate race has been much nastier than the presidential race, and Baldwin and Thompson have the favorability ratings to prove it (-13 for Thompson, -15 for Baldwin, according to a Marquette poll). Baldwin has attacked Thompson for selling out to special interests by working as a lobbyist in Washington after his tenure as HHS secretary. Thompson has attacked Baldwin for being the most liberal member of Congress: She’s voted against Iran sanctions and backed single-payer health care and numerous tax hikes.

The fact that Baldwin might become the first openly gay senator has been mostly a nonfactor in the race. Neither campaign wants to talk about it. And when a Thompson campaign aide emailed a video of Baldwin awkwardly dancing at a gay pride festival in Madison, the (brief) backlash was against Thompson. The aide was reprimanded, and the Thompson campaign has been averse to talking about social issues, even abortion. During the primary, I asked Thompson if he’d draw any contrasts with Tammy Baldwin (a supporter of partial-birth abortion and tax-funded abortions) on the issue. He answered with a corny attack line: “I can tell you Nancy Pelosi has to turn left to look at her.”

With both the Senate and the White House potentially on the line, expect all eyes to be on Wisconsin at least one last time on November 6.

John McCormack is a staff writer at The Weekly Standard.

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