Entries in Wisconsin Primary (6)


Tommy Thompson Wins Wisconsin’s GOP Senate Primary

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(MADISON, Wis.) -- In election-weary Wisconsin, a familiar face has emerged victorious.

Former governor, Health and Human Services secretary, and momentary 2008 presidential candidate Tommy Thompson won Wisconsin’s Republican Senate primary on Tuesday, staving off three GOP rivals.

The result is a win for an established figure and a loss for Tea Partiers and free-market groups in Washington, D.C.

The usual suspects in conservative politics were divided sharply over the race.  Former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann mounted a late charge reflected in polls, with backing from the Club for Growth, Tea Party Express, and Sen. Jim DeMint, whose Senate Conservatives Fund unveiled an ad for Neumann last week.

The three groups poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the race over the last week, airing ads on TV and online, and sending mailers in support of Neumann.

Throughout the race, polls showed Thompson and businessman Eric Hovde as the leaders, with Neumann surging late.

Hovde was endorsed by FreedomWorks, the small-government group headed by former House majority leader Dick Armey, and the Iowa-based free-market group American Future Fund, but he angered anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist by refusing to sign his pledge against voting for tax hikes.

Outside groups piled on Hovde, as Americans for Tax Reform ran phone calls against him, while the Club for Growth spent $339,000 and the 501(c)6 business group Americans for Job Security spent nearly $650,000 in the past two weeks airing ads that hit Hovde on taxes and sought to tie him to bailed out banks.

Neumann’s loss is a blow to his Washington backers, but it would have been more severe had Hovde won, given that the Club for Growth reported spending $1.6 million to attack him.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


In Wisconsin Primary, Paul Ryan’s Budget Is on Display

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(MADISON, Wis.) -- As Paul Ryan love fests go, Wisconsin’s Republican Senate primary might put his national roll-out to shame.

Since well before Mitt Romney introduced the Wisconsin congressman as his running mate on Friday, candidates in Ryan’s home state have been jockeying for super-fan status.

On Tuesday, Wisconsin Republicans will decide a multi-way Senate primary, the winner of which will run against Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin in November.  As in primaries across the country, Ryan’s budget plan is orthodoxy among Republicans.

The top three Republicans in this race all back Ryan’s budget and Medicare reforms.  Emphatically, in fact.

Former congressman Mark Neumann has praised it.  Former governor and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson has promised, repeatedly, to pass it.  And when Ryan introduced it in March, businessman Eric Hovde began airing a radio ad in its support.  

The three candidates even attended a rally in Wisconsin on Saturday, as Ryan made his debut as the VP candidate, and all lavished praise on him.

In a tight race, where polls have shown Hovde and Thompson as the leaders, each has sought an edge by clamoring to back Wisconsin’s hometown budget hero.

None of this is very unusual, as GOP candidates elsewhere have backed Ryan’s Medicare overhaul.  In competitive races in Indiana, Missouri and North Dakota, GOP candidates are on the record supporting Ryan’s 2011 and 2012 budgets.  In Virginia, former Sen. George Allen embraced Ryan over the weekend.

In New Mexico and Montana, GOP candidates have opposed Ryan’s budgets, and have been put on the spot in 2012.  

Former New Mexico congresswoman Heather Wilson, who never had to vote on a Ryan plan, voiced unspecified “concerns” with his health-care provisions, unwilling to say whether she opposed or supported his budgets outright, at a briefing with reporters in Washington, D.C., in July.  

In Montana, the state GOP has run a TV ad touting Rep. Denny Rehberg’s opposition to Ryan’s budget.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Santorum Visits Birthplace of Republican Party

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(RIPON, Wis.) -- Rick Santorum paid a visit to the town described as the birthplace of the Republican Party on Monday as he made his final stop in Wisconsin before the state's primary on Tuesday.

“We came to where the Republican Party first met,” Santorum told reporters in Ripon.  “From the beginning to the end of the beginning if you will.”

Santorum toured the Little White School House, where a group met in 1854 and decided to form a new political party -- the Republican Party -- though other towns across the country, such as Exeter, N.H., have also staked claims to being the true birthplace of the party.

But as he visited the school house, Santorum was greeted outside by loud protesters, who nearly outnumbered the supporters who gathered to see him.  The protesters carried bright colored signs and chanted phrases like “Don’t pick Rick!,” “Lincoln was a liberal,” and “Gays are people too.”

Earlier in the day, Santorum claimed the negativity emanating from the Romney campaign lowers voter turnout, but explained to reporters that his campaign will overcome it and bring voters to the polls.

“Maybe $5 to 10 million of spending on top of your head running negative ads, driving down turnout might have something to do about it,” he said.

“We’re working at it.  You know, look, no one said this would be easy when you’re going against the money and the machine.  But I think it does, it is reflective of the fact that, you know, the way Gov. Romney’s been able to win states is to drive down turnout by turning off voters and alienating people and getting historically low turnouts, and winning in that fashion by running an overwhelmingly negative campaign,” Santorum said as his wife, Karen, started to speak.

“As Karen said, just barely keeping his head above water at that.  So we feel like, you know, the longer we’re in this thing the stronger we’re getting,” he said.  “You know we won 11 states now.  In states where we are only outspent two or three to one we generally win, so you know that’s not bad.  That’s pretty good.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Santorum Hopeful He’ll Pull Off a Wisconsin Upset

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(MENASHA, Wis.) -- Rick Santorum expressed some optimism on Monday about his chances in Wisconsin ahead of the Republican presidential primary there on Tuesday, saying he’s hopeful he’ll “pull off an upset” and shake up the race.

“We’re feeling good.  We’re feeling like we might pull off an upset here tomorrow in Wisconsin.  What do you think?” Santorum said at a rally at Sabre Lanes bowling alley.

Despite spending eight of the past 10 days in Wisconsin, Santorum has trailed Romney in the polls in the Badger State throughout his time in the state.

While he repeated his usual criticisms of Romney on healthcare and cap-and-trade energy policies, Santorum laid into the former Massachusetts governor for his position on the Second Amendment, an issue he does not normally attack his rivals on during his stump speeches, and he touted his own approval rating from the National Rifle Association.

“I usually get questions -- where are you on the Second Amendment?  Well, I am a great defender of the second amendment, A-plus rating from the National Rifle Association, I have somewhat -- you can applaud that,” Santorum said, before criticizing Romney.  “Someone in the 1990s, when everybody wanted to do more gun control, including another candidate in this race who is a former governor of Massachusetts who will go nameless, but I didn’t support the Brady Bill when he did.  I didn’t support the assault weapons ban.  I stood tall and I didn’t say that we have a lot of good gun law in Massachusetts and I won’t touch any of them.  I didn’t put taxes on gun registration and ownership, increase it by 400 percent.  I’m someone who has a solid record on going out and protecting the Second Amendment, someone who believes that the Second Amendment is there to protect the First Amendment.”

But while he criticized the former Massachusetts governor for his Second Amendment stance, along with labeling him as the “Etch-A-Sketch” candidate, Santorum admitted Romney would be a “better” alternative than President Obama, and said the Republican Party would support him should he gain the nomination.

“A moderate Massachusetts governor is not going to make that strong contrast.  He’ll pull out the Etch-A-Sketch.  And we’ll be stuck again with someone who is -- yes, better.  We’ll support,” he said.  “But it’s so much harder to win when you aren’t motivating the people that you need to in this country to get out and vote so we can win the states like Wisconsin and Indiana and Ohio and Pennsylvania.”

After his rally, Santorum bowled his final game of his bowling tour through Wisconsin.  Of the eight days he’s spent in the Badger State, Santorum bowled seven times, even playing multiple games in one outing.  He started his bowling streak last Saturday with a turkey in Sheboygan and ended his tour with a win and a score of 152.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rick Santorum Tries to Bowl Over Wisconsin

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(LA CROSSE, Wis.) -- As he tries to connect with voters in Wisconsin, Rick Santorum latched on to his talent in the sport of bowling to prove that he’s a candidate voters can relate to.

From Sheboygan to Fond du Lac and over to La Crosse, Santorum has squeezed in some time on the bowling lanes in between campaign stops -- three times in the past five days -- acknowledging that he’s enjoyed unconventional forms of campaigning dating back to his time in the early caucus state of Iowa.

“Well, I always try to make campaigning fun and do things that are, you know, along the way, and get a chance to meet people in sort of normal settings instead of in rallies or structured events,” Santorum said Wednesday as he took questions from reporters while bowling with college Republicans in La Crosse, Wis.

While he does not outwardly say it, Santorum’s bowling jaunts may be an attempt to paint a contrast with Mitt Romney.  But when asked if highlighting the contrast is intentional, Santorum responded, “That’s him not me.  I’m doing what I’m doing.  I’ve been doing stuff like this for a long time.”

Santorum, who has repeatedly asked reporters if their outlets have posted video of his bowling outings online, began his bowling stint with a turkey -- three strikes in a row -- in Sheboygan, Wis.  But four days later as he bowled with college Republicans in La Crosse, Santorum lost the hot streak, scoring only 88 points in seven frames, a low game for the former Pennsylvania senator.

Aside from showing off his bowling skills, Santorum has taken to incorporating bowling terminology into his speeches.

“You have spoken loudly with Gov. Walker,” Santorum said in a speech in Sparta, Wis., Wednesday morning.  “You have spoken loudly with another Wisconsinite, Paul Ryan, and his boldness.  And now it’s time for Wisconsin to do what I did the other day in Sheboygan.  Not just bowl one strike, not just bowl two strikes, but to bowl three strikes in a row and knock Obama out of the game by electing Rick Santorum.”

Santorum, who has spent the past five days in Wisconsin, believes the time he’s put into campaigning in the state will help boost him in Tuesday’s primary.

“We’re certainly working hard that it’s gonna pay off,” he said.  “It’s paid off in the past and just get out there and talk to the voters and relate the message.  And as we’ve seen in the other states where we had an opportunity of a run-up, we’ve done well.  I think we’ll do well here.  The question is: How well?”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Boosts Wisconsin Gov. Walker Ahead of Recall Election

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) —  At a Wisconsin voters’ tele-town hall Wednesday, Mitt Romney threw his support behind embattled Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is facing a recall election after he orchestrated a law that cuts public employees’ collective bargaining rights in the state.

“Governor Walker is, in my opinion, an excellent governor, and I believe that he is right to stand up for the citizens of Wisconsin, and to insist that those people who are working in the public sector unions have rights to effect their wages, but that these benefits and retiree benefits have fallen out of line with the capacity of the state to pay them, and so I support the governor in his effort to reign in the excesses that have permeated the public sector union and government negotiations over the years,” said Romney.

This was the first tele-town hall Romney has held with Wisconsin voters ahead of their primary on April 3rd.

“This is something which a number of other states have confronted as well,” said Romney, who talks daily about the need to reduce the size of government and curtail out-of-control spending. “The state of Indiana, even my home state of Massachusetts, has reigned in the collective bargaining excesses associated with retirement benefits for future retirees.”

“I understand that current retirees are not having their benefits changed, but for future retirees collective bargaining will not include some of these retirement benefits, and I support the governor and his effort to bring fiscal responsibility to the capitol,” said Romney.

Walker’s recall election is expected to take place later this spring.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio