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Senate Candidate Eric Hovde Blasts Tommy Thompson for Not Debating

Campaign manager says former governor backed out of debate as soon as he heard Hovde would be there, but Thompson aide says Hovde is being "hypocritical."

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde Tuesday took former Gov. Tommy Thompson to task Tuesday for not appearing at a candidates forum in Madison.

Hovde, who is opposing Thompson and two other Republicans in the Senate primary, said the no-show is denying voters the chance to hear where the former governor stands on fiscal issues. 

“It’s certainly disappointing that, once again, Gov. Thompson is denying Wisconsin voters a good, honest debate," Hovde campaign press secretary Sean Lansing said in a statement.

Thompson, along with Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, will not participate in Dane County Young Republicans event on Tuesday night.

The event, originally designed as a debate between the four candidates, is now a forum with only former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann and Hovde participating. 

"With record high spending, crushing debt and tax rates that are set to skyrocket, folks deserve to know where a governor who increased state spending by 118 percent while raising taxes and fees by millions and increasing our debt by $1.8 billion stands on these issues,” Lansing added.

Thompson campaign turns tables

However, the Thompson campaign fired back by calling Hovde's comments hypocritical since Hovde missed an earlier candidates forum.

"Hovde's criticism is hypocritical, as he blew off Wisconsin Right to Life, refusing to participate in their April 28th debate," said Thompson spokesman Darrin Schmitz in a statement. "All of the Republican U.S. Senate candidate's participated in the pro-life debate except for Hovde."

In terms of letting voters know where Thompson stands on fiscal issues, Schmitz said:

"Tommy Thompson delivered historic tax relief by picking up two-thirds the cost of education, which Hovde counts as a rise in government spending. Thompson also capped property taxes and implemented the QEO as well as used his veto pen a record 1,900 times to cut $287 million in spending."

David Summers, spokesperson for the GOP group, said Thompson and Fitzgerald will not attend due to unforeseen scheduling conflicts. 

But Lansing wasn't buying that.

"That has been (Thompson's) standard line every time something like this has come up," Lansing said Tuesday afternoon during a phone interview. "I have it on good authority from a couple of people involved in their organization that as soon as he found out that Eric was confirmed, he backed out." 

As Hovde and Neumann discuss their positions on key issues and answer pre-submitted questions during the forum, Fitzgerald will hold a fundraiser in Oconomowoc this evening, according to Wispolitics.com

Thompson's evening plans are unknown and his campaign did not return calls seeking comment.

Thompson also did not attend a debate in April in Waukesha. According to the Hovde campaign, the Republican U.S. Senate candidates will debate again July 30. 

Hovde's comments on poor spark controversy

Hovde created a stir of his own during the last couple of days when he said the media should stop writing about the plight of poor people and concentrate more on the broad fiscal issues such as waste, fraud and government spending that continue to perplex lawmakers and policymakers.

His comments, first reported by The Huffington Post, were made at an event in Brookfield on Friday. And Democrats wasted no time reacting to the statement.

"It’s important to keep in mind that these were the comments of a multmillionaire, hedge fund banker who has spent the last 24 years in Washington," said the campaign for Democrat U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin.

"He has shown no interest in working across party lines to strengthen the economic security of Wisconsin’s middle-class and is instead supporting the failed policies of the past that benefited a few, crashed our economy and devastated the middle class," Baldwin's campaign added.

Lansing said the claim that Hovde does not care about poor people is "ridiculous." 

"What you saw was politics as usual," said Lansing, referring to the video clip that shows Hovde making his remarks. "They tried to turn it into this guy (being) anti-poor when nothing could be further from the truth."

A Rasmussen poll released late last week showed Thompson ahead of Baldwin 52 to 36 percent. The public opinion poll showed the other three Republican candidates are virtually tied with Baldwin. 

The Republican primary is Aug. 14, with the winner to face Baldwin in the Nov. 6 general election.

Brian Carlson June 22, 2012 at 03:14 AM
Great example. I probably think, drawing a generalization, that hedge fund managers are on the edge of some sort of morality.... basically they are gamblers who make a hell of a lot of money (legally) betting on spreads as I understand it. An odd line of work to me and hardly that good old roll up the shirtsleeves sort of American stuff we like to muse about. At the same time, Lyle researches Mr. Hovde and finds he also helps out people with M.S. and does other philanthropic work. So... what sort of man is he? I dont know.... I see ads where he says this and that. I saw an ad where he sits in his kitchen behind his daughters and says he doesnt care what the people in the Senate think about him...and sort of gloats or sneers a bit... definitely telling me that he is not out to work WITH anyone. Is it good to have an official that doesn't care what anyone thinks about him? I would want to be thought of as collegial, as collaborative, as smart, as a leader but as a leader who listens, as someone who can operate in a bipartisan fashion for the good of the State, etc. He doesn't evidently. I am just going by what comes out of his mouth. And of course its popular recently, particularly for young politicians to say we are not going to work with anyone. I think that is a poor attitude for a would be leader.
Dirk Gutzmiller June 22, 2012 at 03:56 AM
Terry - You are hard to figure out. What kind of talk do you want from the left? Educated, uneducated, effete, down to earth, entertaining, serious, nuanced, matter-of-fact? You protesteth too much.
Dirk Gutzmiller June 22, 2012 at 04:08 AM
Mau - No, there is nothing wrong with being white, what is wrong is being right (-wing, that is), Why do you vote against your own self interests? Why do you yearn for a right to work state, when you have union ties? What will happen to wages and pensions if the big money boys continue to buy elections? Why do you help rich people get richer, including billionaires Are you subsidizing them, when they pay little or no taxes, and you pay yours? Think about it. Are you being taken as a fool?
Mrs. R June 22, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Back to article topic: Hovde in a "honest debate" would be another 'circus', as with the many Republican Party debates demonstrated. The lack of a true R. Party 'policy consensus' remands a confusing trend. Let's support not repeating that kind of debate process. However, watching Ron Paul continue is the one interesting political aspect for debate in my humble opinion. I voted for him once, and other non-conformists to Republican Party goal demands.
mau June 23, 2012 at 02:21 AM
@Dirk, sounds like you are describing the left. How can you fool yourself to think that there are no rich powerful people on your side manipulating you. Plus you are blind to the fact that the unions are headed up by fat cats who give a crap about you. All they think about is their pocket books and power. They are no different than the bankers or any other greedy people.

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