The Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks have become a new point of contention in Wisconsin’s heated U.S. Senate race, with both campaigns claiming in media advertisements their opponent does not care about those most impacted by the attack.
Former Gov. Tommy Thompson’s campaign drew first blood Tuesday by attacking opponent Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, for voting against a 2006 bill to honor Sept. 11 victims.
Baldwin’s campaign responded Wednesday with an attack ad of its own that calls Thompson’s ad a “disgrace.” The ad goes on to say Baldwin voted in support of Sept. 11 victims multiple times and accuses Thompson of profiting $3 million from a federal bill to provide health care to first responders from the attack.
The Thompson campaign released a statement touting the Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Association’s support for him.
“Tommy’s record as a governor speaks for itself,” MPFFA President Dave Seager said in the statement. “Tommy has always been consistent in his support for us during his tenure as governor and Health and Human Services Secretary, and I know he will be in the future as a U.S. Senator.”
Thompson “would have been the first in line” to sign the legislation in question if he had been presented it, Seager said.
In the statement, Thompson said he was “honored” to have their endorsement and said he would always be a “vocal advocate” for public safety workers and ensure they have the proper resources.
According to FactCheck.org, Baldwin did vote against the 2006 bill commemorating the attacks’s fifth anniversary, along with Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, and 21 other Democrats in Congress. The site says both ads fail to note the GOP-drafted bill also “politicized” the anniversary by supporting the Patriot Act and anti-immigration legislation that many Democrats opposed.
University of Wisconsin political science professor David Canon agreed with FactCheck.org’s description of Thompson’s ad as “false and vicious.” Canon said Baldwin was faced with a “Catch-22” when she voted against the 2006 bill.
Cannon said the ad was completely inappropriate because it distorted why Baldwin voted against the bill.
“It’s really a classic no-win situation when something is structured that way,” Canon said. “You have to be in the position of voting for something that you’re against when you combine things like that in a bill.”
In an email to The Badger Herald, Baldwin spokesperson John Kraus said members of New York’s Congressional delegation support Baldwin’s votes.
In a statement, Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said Baldwin has an outstanding record of leadership in standing up for 9/11 first responders and survivors, and anyone who says differently is disregarding facts.
Canon said Thompson received an $11 million contract from the government in 2008 as head of Logistics Health. He said the contract was for the company to provide health care to first responders and that there was criticism about how that money was spent.
However, Canon said from what he has read, the claim Thompson made $3 million from the contract may be misleading, as he made it from selling his interest in the company, not from directly taking federal funds.