Radio host: “Oh, my God, I spy a black man”
Vicki McKenna works for WISN radio in Milwaukee and WIBA radio in Madison, Wis.
Thompson tells tea party ralliers he likely won’t challenge Feingold
Thousands gathered at the Wisconsin State Capitol Thursday for a “tea party” rally on tax day. Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson told ralliers he likely won’t challenge Feingold in Senate race.
Conservatives from around Wisconsin spoke out against taxation, government spending and the current political establishment at a Tea Party rally Thursday afternoon in front of the Capitol.
Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, one of the highest-profile politicians at the rally, gave a highly anticipated speech to the crowd, which Capitol Police estimated to be approximately 4,500 people.
Thompson announced he would not run, as many had speculated he would, for the United States Senate seat Sen. Russ Feingold currently occupies.
Amid chants of “Run, Tommy, Run!” Thompson attacked Feingold, President Barack Obama, U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid mainly for the controversial passage of health care reform last month.
He then said he had chosen not to run because of a family decision.
“It’s time for new voices and new faces,” Thompson said. “This is the most important election that any of us have ever faced, and if we can maintain this momentum … we will have a new governor, a new Legislature, a new United States.”
Many attendees were visibly upset with Thompson’s announcement, and the crowd noise level and enthusiasm decreased in the remaining words of his speech.
Terrence Wall, a Republican senatorial candidate who would have faced Thompson in the Republican primary, said he communicates with Thompson several times every month. He did not say whether Thompson would be campaigning on his behalf at this point.
“[The movement] needs his energy; we need his enthusiasm,” Wall said. “He’s been very generous to me with his time, and we’ll be talking further in the future. We need to earn [his support] and, at the appropriate time, that will be his decision.”
Wall is facing Watertown businessman Dave Westlake for the September 14 GOP primary election to challenge Feingold this November.
Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesperson Graeme Zielinski said Thompson’s comments against health care reform countered his previous positions on the issue.
“I think everyone knew that Tommy Thompson was going to have a hard time running,” Zielinski said. “He supported health care reform and he also worked very hard for his corporate clients to get stimulus money.”
Republican voters will also decide to elect either Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker or former U.S. Congressman Mark Neumann to face Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in the general election.
Neumann, who currently works in the private sector, has received a considerable amount of support from the Tea Party movement in the last several months. Nick Novak, state chair of Students for Scott Walker, said he saw substantial support for Walker at the rally.
“There’s a lot of support here for Scott,” Novak said. “I think they’re understanding that he’s the candidate that will be able to turn Wisconsin around.”
Neumann said his experience as a former Congressman who is now a Washington outsider in the private sector gives him an edge over Walker.
“The Tea Party people are people who are fed up with government and don’t want career politicians in office,” Neumann said.
Many attendees brought signs attacking Obama, Pelosi and the mainstream media.
Madison and Milwaukee conservative talk show radio host Vicki McKenna also attended the event, saying liberals are the ones hurling racist, intolerant insults at conservatives instead of the other way around.
David King, an African-American speaker for the Milwaukee God Squad, then pointed himself out to McKenna as an example of McKenna’s claim the movement is racially diverse.
“Oh my God, you’re black,” McKenna said to King. “I spy a black man.”
Howard Weber, a New Glarus man who said he volunteered and represented the United States in Eastern Europe, held a sign in the crowd saying his brother’s recent loss of both his home and job were a result of big government.
Weber added lawmakers should reaffirm the rule of law set by the Constitution, which he said current lawmakers have disrespected.
“The basic principle is that our country is a republic, not a democracy,” Weber added. “Democracy is 51 percent controls 49 percent. That’s also known as mob rule. A republic has laws and you follow the laws no matter if 51 percent of people say otherwise.”
–Jake Begun contributed to this report.