• WisPolitics

Thursday, October 18, 2012

 10:51 PM 

Baldwin, Thompson spar over Iran, health care, taxes

WAUSAU -- GOP U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson expressed outrage Thursday that his Dem rival Tammy Baldwin has accepted thousands in donations from an organization that opposes sanctions on Iran.

But Baldwin fired back that Thompson had invested in a company that helped Iran mine uranium. "I find that shocking," she said,

It was one of the most hostile exchanges in the second of their three debates as the two often talked over each other. At one point, Thompson cut off Baldwin saying, “You want to interrupt me, Joe Biden. Just give me a chance.” The reference to the vice president drew groans from the crowd at UW-Marathon.

The statewide televised debate could prove pivotal in a tight race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Herb Kohl after 24 years. It's one of a handful of races that will determine control of the U.S. Senate. The third and final debate is at Marquette Law School on Oct. 26, an event co-sponsored by WisPolitics.com.

Thompson criticized Baldwin for accepting nearly $60,000 from a group that opposes sanctions against Iran, calling it outrageous. He also knocked her for failing to be tough enough on Iran, which is run by a leader with "some mental problem," he said.

Baldwin insisted several times she didn't know what Thompson was talking about after he said she took the money from Council for a Living Earth. Records show the donations came from the Council for a Livable World. She also took issue with Thompson calling the group a company, saying she has never accepted contributions from a corporation.

"I cannot believe anybody would take money from an organization that supports that madman in Iran," Thompson said.

Baldwin pivoted quickly to knock Thompson for owning stock in mining company Rio Tinto, which partners with Iran in mining uranium, according to a
report today in the Huffington Post. The website reported Iran owns 15 percent of a uranium mining operation in Namibia with Rio Tinto.

Thompson said the stock was purchased by his broker. He said he only found out about it Thursday and sold it immediately. The answer prompted some laughs in the audience of about 350 people.

“I do not agree with anybody doing business with Iran,” Thompson said.

See full coverage of the debate here.

-- By Bob Imrie

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