In a wide-ranging attack on his opponent in the U.S. Senate race, Republican Tommy Thompson on Sunday called Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin "anti-Jewish" and "anti-Israel."
It was far stronger language than Thompson had previously used in charging that Baldwin had repeatedly voted against having the U.S. impose sanctions on Iran before consistently voting for them only since beginning her Senate campaign.
"Tammy Baldwin, her whole record is anti-Israel," Thompson said at a press conference in Wauwatosa. "She voted for the first time for the sanctions three months ago because she knew she was running for the U.S. Senate. That is the lamest excuse I've ever heard.
"She's anti-Israel, she's anti-Jewish and she's trying to now somehow obfuscate her views and her intentions," the former governor added.
The Baldwin campaign was quick to respond that Thompson was off base.
"First, it's flat-out false," said John Kraus, Baldwin's campaign manager. "It's a dishonest and desperate charge."
Pointing out that Baldwin had just spoken Sunday morning at the Jewish Community Center in Whitefish Bay, where Kraus said she was well-received, he said: "I think that shows just how desperate it is."
He also noted that Baldwin had voted for $35 billion in aid to Israel.
Wisconsin Politifact did on Sept. 28 rate Baldwin's voting record on Iranian sanctions a "Full Flop," but the "anti-Jewish" label has not been stuck on her before at this level.
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Thompson also assailed Baldwin's record overall and in particular on Medicare, which he said under Democratic policy "is going broke in the year 2022 or 2024.
"Tammy Baldwin is standing by, playing her harp...while Rome is burning — and while we are seeing Medicare go bankrupt," he said. "And the worst thing for us to do for the seniors of America, for the seniors of Wisconsin, is to allow Medicare to go broke.
"Because if Medicare goes broke, those individuals that rely upon that safety net are going to end up without Medicare."
Thompson said his plan would allow those now on Medicare to stay on it, while allowing those who turn 55 in 2022 to choose between continuing the current Medicare plan or the federal health insurance plan, "the same program that Congress is on, the same program the president is on."
Kraus responded: "For four years, Thompson was in charge of Medicare, and during those four years, he ran it nine years closer to bankruptcy.
"Meanwhile, he cut sweetheart deals with the drug companies, and when he left that job he cashed in and went to work with a lobbying group in Washington, D.C., cutting deals that would provide huge profits to insurance companies," Kraus said.
"Who better than him to do away with Medicare and Medicaid?" Kraus asked. "Tammy Baldwin voted against that sweetheart deal and has introduced legislation to end it.
"With one vote, she did more to extend Medicare than he did in four years."