Thompson, Baldwin debate in Wausau - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Thompson, Baldwin debate in Wausau

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WAUSAU (WAOW) -

The candidates for U.S. Senate debated Thursday evening in Wausau.

The hour-long debate was often heated and full of claims about each candidate's record. And this all comes just a few weeks before Election Day in a very close race.

The debate between Republican Tommy Thompson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin started on the hottest topic in the country—jobs.

"I worked with the Democrats to cut taxes 91 times," said Thompson, speaking of his time as Wisconsin's governor.

"Right now the middle class in this state is struggling," said Baldwin, who has represented Madison in Congress for 14 years.

The 60-minute debate at UW-Marathon County touched on several issues: health care, foreign policy, and education. But each candidate continually pounded away at a central theme about each other.

"The fact remains that for the last seven years, he's been a partner at a powerhouse lobbying firm in Washington, D.C.," said Baldwin.

"My opponent is on the extreme side of the Democratic party," said Thompson.

At some points, the moderators turned the floor over to the candidates for unstructured debate time. This led to some heated exchanges.

Thompson took an aggressive approach throughout the debate. He often seemed to get the last word. But in one instance, it led to him getting booed.

"Let me finish! Let me finish!" he shouted at Baldwin. "You had two minutes, let me finish. You want to interrupt me, Joe Biden? Just give me a chance."

Some in the crowd voiced their displeasure at Thompson's comments.  

The debate ended on a calmer note, though. Both candidates made their pitches, asking for votes. And every vote will count as polls show this race is a dead heat.

Voters we talked with after the debate said it provided a lot of insight into their personalities.

Tammy Baldwin supporters said she hit all the right points, while people pulling for Tommy Thompson told Newsline 9 he stood his ground.

"I think he did very well. He was very aggressive. It was typical Tommy Thompson," Andrew Plath of Wausau said.

Representatives for both campaigns said they were happy with the debate.

"Tommy Thompson's message of job creation and reducing taxes, cutting the nation's deficit is resonating with Wisconsin families," Tommy Thompson communications representative Lisa Boothe said.

"Tammy Baldwin's responses were spot on. Her conversations with Tommy Thompson clarified points even greater," Democrat Donna Seidel said.

Meantime, some voters said their opinion wasn't really swayed.

To be honest, I'm really not thrilled with either candidate," John Fischer of Wausau said.

Thompson and Baldwin will meet for their third and final debate next week.

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