Speaking today at an event where he received the the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Tommy Thompson said he does not think his son needs to apologize publicly or to the president for joking about sending Barack Obama "back to Kenya" at a GOP fundraiser.
"He has already apologized, and that's enough," Thompson said at a Milwaukee news conference this afternoon. "It was an offhanded remark that somebody mentioned in the audience. If you look at the movie, he didn't say it. Somebody in the audience said it and he repeated it, and I've talked to him about it and he apologized and that's it."
"My son feels miserable about it," he added.
Jason Thompson spoke to a Kenosha County GOP fundraiser on Sunday when he said, "We have the opportunity to send President Obama back to Chicago ... or Kenya."
The comment, referencing the claim that the president was not born in the United States, drew laughs and applause at the Kenosha County GOP Fall Brunch. A woman in the crowd added, "We're taking donations for that Kenya trip."
Tommy Thompson appeared today at Grover Corp. in Milwaukee with U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri and Rob Engstrom, senior vice president for political affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to accept the chamber's endorsement.
Thompson was asked if today's appearance by Blunt and the chamber and a planned appearance on his behalf in Green Bay tomorrow by Gov. Chris Christie signal a change in his campaign.
He guffawed and said, "It's called momentum. It's called the big mo'. It's called winning."
"People are coming in, they're coming in and flocking to support me, which I think is great, because people believe in me," said Thompson. "They know the momentum is in my direction even though I'm being outspent 3 to 1. I was outspent 7 to 1 in the primary and I'm being outspent 3 to 1 now."
Engstrom told WisPolitics afterward that the chamber decided to endorse Thompson just three weeks before the election to try to win over independent voters who might be wavering.
"We believe he's winning, but it's close," Engstrom said.
Engstrom called the Wisconsin race the most important political race in the nation, saying it could produce the "51st seat for a pro-business majority in January of 2013."
UPDATE: Baldwin spokesman John Kraus responded, “Tommy
Thompson and his campaign have grown increasing desperate and dishonest. Now he
is arrogantly defending his campaign’s divisive political tactics, which have no
place in Wisconsin. It’s unacceptable that Tommy Thompson has crossed this line
and he won’t apologize or disavow his own son’s comments. Wisconsin voters will
hold Tommy Thompson accountable for his refusal to take responsibility for what
his campaign says and does.”