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Thursday, February 23, 2012

 7:36 PM 

GOP Senate candidates share views on Obama, differ in approach

Speaking during a forum, all three Republican U.S. Senate candidates slammed Barack Obama for his fiscal and foreign policy, former Gov. Tommy Thompson left the door open for working with Democrats and sharply dismissed his conservative critics.

In a forum hosted by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, Both Neumann and Thompson were asked whether they agreed with a statement from current Sen. Ron Johnson that Obama isn't someone they could compromise with. Neumann said that Obama should not be compromised with if he continues to bring us to the "brink of financial disaster."

Thompson refused to make any direct statement on Johnson's comment, instead assailing Obama as a "failed president" who doesn't want to get involved in the "nitty gritty" of leading and policy.

However, just before that, Thompson said that he believed he could find people on the other side of the aisle that he could work with in the U.S. Senate.

"I have shown that you can work and develop good policy and make progress," Thompson said. "And there are good ideas coming from Democrats, there are good ideas coming from Republicans. What is so wrong with having candid discussion and developing good solutions?"

Neumann disagreed with Thompson's approach, saying until Democrats understand the need to cut spending and taxes, a strong conservative senator would be needed to reign in government. He once again touted his private sector experience and list of 92 line item cuts he would propose if elected to the Senate, saying that he would make sure they would not only balance the budget, but cut enough spending to provide tax breaks for Americans.

"We have so many stupid spending programs in this budget, but one of those programs all by itself if not going to solve that problem," Neumann said. "We need a comprehensive plan with multiple line item entries and that's what we've been putting out."

Neumann made clear that while his plans for Medicare and Social Security were forthcoming, it would not include raising the eligible age of Social Security.

Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, on the other hand, said that raising the eligible age for Medicare and Social Security has to be part of the discussion and said he supported Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare reform plan.

"So if you're honest with people and say, you know, the age 67 might have to go to 70 to make that solvent again, people are willing to do that, they understand that then," Fitzgerald said. "But to just push it off and not look? We know we're on a crash course that these things are going to become insolvent soon."

Fitzgerald also said that he thought his role in the collective bargaining battle would provide a fresh face for voters to turn to and thought it would give him an edge over his opponents.

See complete WisPolitics coverage of the forum

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