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Mitt Romney's wife, Ann, spoke in Milwaukee Thursday trying to spoil the claim that her husband does not care about nearly half the U.S. population.
Video surfaced this week of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney telling wealthy donors this summer that he does not worry about the 47 percent of Americans who pay no income taxes, and are dependent on government. Ann Romney speaking at Marquette University made no direct reference to the video, but she said several times that her husband cares, including about women hurt by the recession. "Mitt is a person that cares."
Ann Romney’s words were enough to reassure Marquette graduate student Jessica Eckdahl, who says the media are not portraying the true mitt Romney. "His campaign has to get around the media that report Mitt just cares about himself."
A small group of President Obama’s supporters held a rally nearby. Florence Hamalev of Kenosha believes the true Mitt Romney is the one...

All Things Considered

Former four-term GOP Gov. Tommy Thompson is facing off against seven-term Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin for an open Senate seat. With recent polls showing a Baldwin surge, one pollster says his state seems to be in the midst of an identity crisis.

Governor Scott Walker is declining to weigh in on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's comments criticizing 47 percent of the American public. 
In a secretly recorded speech to GOP donors first posted online by the magazine Mother Jones, Romney characterized 47 percent of Americans as people who see themselves as victims, entitled to government help. Romney said those people would vote for President Obama no matter what, and that it was not his job to worry about those people.
Walker, who has not shied away from publicly advising the Romney campaign and who has recently been one of its most outspoken supporters, had little to say when asked about the 47 percent comments, "I'll let Mitt Romney talk about his comments in that regard. For me, that's a statement he has to take on, not myself."
Reaction from other top Republicans has been mixed. Former Governor and GOP U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson told Fox News that...

Here and Now

Democratic Candidate Pat Kreitlow, the challenger in the U.S. 7th Congressional District, discusses his views on health care, job growth, taxes and growing the economy.

Here and Now

Republican candidate Sean Duffy, the incumbent in the U.S. 7th Congressional District, discusses his views on health care, job growth, taxes and growing the economy.

Two independent polls show President Barack Obama with a widening lead over Mitt Romney in Wisconsin. The results come as the President and Romney's wife, Ann, are about to campaign at separate events in Wisconsin.
A poll done by a Connecticut university shows President Obama with a six-point lead over Mitt Romney in Wisconsin. Marquette University in Milwaukee has a new poll showing the president 14 points ahead in the state, up from three points last month. Marquette pollster Charles Franklin says independents seem to be heading the president's way.  "Independents have shifted from plus 2 to plus 15 Obama," he says.
The Romney campaign has criticized the president's handling of the economy, as well as the slow growth in jobs and higher poverty levels. but Professor Franklin says the new poll shows most Wisconsin voters blame it on Bush, as in former President George W. Bush. "It is still the case that a substantial percentage blames Bush,"...

Two polls released Wednesday appear to show good news for Democratic Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin, in her contest against Republican Tommy Thompson.
Baldwin has been trailing Thompson in most independent polls, but a new survey from Quinnipiac University shows a tie between Baldwin and Thompson, while a new Marquette University poll shows Baldwin up by nine points, reversing Thompson’s lead of a month ago.
Marquette pollster Charles Franklin says Baldwin’s gains may be partly due to more t-v ads on the air backing her campaign. “It comes after Baldwin and outside groups are running ads attacking Thompson.”
Franklin says a close Republican primary may have left Thompson’s campaign without much money, but Thompson recently held a big fundraiser. In addition, a group founded by conservative activist Karl Rove has started running anti-Baldwin ads in Wisconsin.
Franklin says another factor helping Baldwin is that more independent voters are getting behind her. “Of course the flip side is...

A group co-founded by former Bush aide Karl Rove has started running a statewide television commercial attacking Democratic Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin. 
The ad begins with Representative Baldwin speaking at a Wisconsin rally saying, "You're damn right we're making a difference"
The ad is part of a nearly $1 million advertising buy done by Crossroads GPS, a Washington DC advocacy group co-founded by conservative activist Karl Rove. Crossroads says Rove is an unpaid advisor.
As far as the claim that Baldwin is out of touch with Wisconsin, Crossroads spokesperson Nate Hodson points to Baldwin's support for going beyond the Affordable Care Act, "I think Baldwin says Obamacare doesn't go far enough."
Hodson also says Baldwin wants bigger government and advocates extreme politics.
Baldwin’s campaign says the federal health care law is not a government takeover of medicine. The campaign says big moneyed special interests are behind the ad, and are trying to prop up republican candidate...

A Wausau radio station has agreed to give five hours of free campaign advertising to a Democratic assembly candidate, after it kept her Republican opponent on the air as a talk show host after he announced he was running.
When conservative talk show host Pat Snyder announced his candidacy for the 85th assembly seat back in February, his employer WSAU radio kept him on the air. Democrats harshly criticized the decision. Now, station managers admit they left Snyder on the air too long. FCC equal time rules started to apply the day after the August 14th primary, and Snyder kept broadcasting until August 30th. 
WSAU radio has reached a deal with Snyder’s Democratic opponent Mandy Wright. The station is giving Wright five hours of free one-minute ads. Wright says about the deal, "I think it was very amicable, and I'm happy that we were able to reach this settlement quickly. And, I think this is a great opportunity...

A new report from Wisconsin Democracy Campaign says more than half the money spent by special interest groups during Wisconsin’s recent recall elections came from anonymous donors.
The report tracks $90 million raised and spent in the 2011 and 2012 governor and senate recall elections. It finds that 49 million of those dollars came from undisclosed donors, and only 1 million from donors whose names were listed clearly in campaign finance reports.
Democracy Campaign director Mike McCabe says the largest chunk of undisclosed contributions came from conservative groups like the Americans for Prosperity Foundation. He says while it is legal to keep donors’ names secret, he believes it does a disservice to voters. "They're spreading these messages and inundating the airwaves with all these campaign ads, but the public is left in the dark about who's really writing the checks. And so, it's hard to know how you feel about a claim unless you know a little something...

This November marks the first presidential election held since the landmark Citizens United case. Research by political scientists at UW Madison looks at whether there has been overwhelming corporate election influence so far.
In Citizens United, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations and unions. The Chair of UW Madison’s political science department has researched some of the fallout from the decision.
At a public forum, Professor Ken Mayer cited work done by his colleague John Coleman. It shows that what we tend to think of as "corporations"--Fortune 500 companies--have not had a major role in recent elections. "There's virtually no evidence that publicly traded corporations have made sustained contributions to election efforts: independent campaigns, contributions to advocacy groups."
That is not to say corporations are sitting by the sidelines. There are different kinds of corporations, and Mayer says most of the trackable corporate contributions come...

The Obama campaign has announced the endorsement of more than 60 small business owners in the state, as the campaign tries to blunt Republican criticism that the President is anti-business.
The Obama campaign says the president has cut taxes for small businesses 18 times, boosted access to credit and tried to level the playing field between small and large firms. Republicans point to video footage from July where the president suggests small business owners did not build their firms on their own.

Obama supporter Kyle Weatherly of Milwaukee is president of Solaris, a medical garment maker. Weatherly says he and his mother had lot of help building their company. "Solaris has 55 employees. All helped."
Wis. Romney campaign spokesperson Ben Sparks says, in general, small business owners are not fond of the president, and that "This president has demonized small business."
Sparks says the president put passing the Affordable Health Care Act above helping businesses create jobs....

Former Comptroller General of the U.S. David Walker is stopping in Milwaukee Monday with his 10 Million a Minute Tour. Walker is funding the bi-partisan bus tour, which is making stops in swing states across the country to educate voters about the extent of the nation's debt, and what they can do about it.
Walker says he wants Wisconsin voters to know how important they are. “Wisconsin’s going to play a very important role with regard to the presidential election this year. People need to understand that if we don’t end up focusing on how do we grow out economy, generate jobs and put our finances in order, then the kinds of problems we are facing today could be much bigger in the future.”
The bus tour's next stop is St. Louis, Mo.

Progressive political activists in Wisconsin do not often agree on how to win back the political power they once had in the state. At the 11th Annual Fighting Bob Fest in Madison this past weekend, they appeared to be unanimous on the corrupting influence of money in political campaigns.
Speakers at this year's event addressed a range of topics that ran the gamut from global warming and anti-militarism to women's rights and campaign finance reform. An unscientific sampling of participants’ reasons for attending the gathering confirmed that the influence of money on elections is at the top of the list of things that progressives believe needs to be changed.
Kevin Kuehl of Wuapaca was attending his fifth Bob Fest. "Everything comes back to how we fund the elections, how we run them and how we spend so much money on them and how people influenced. Everybody here obviously pays a lot of attention. But so many people don't...

Vice President Joe Biden campaigned in Eau Claire Thursday and was tailed by a faction of the Romney Ryan campaign, confirming Wisconsin’s status as a battleground state. According to the campaign, 3,000 people piled into a small arena at the UW Eau Claire Campus to see the vice president. 
Biden mainly talked about investing in education as a way to grow the nation’s economy. He defended administration spending on things like early learning, expanded Pell grants and tax breaks for families putting kids through college. Biden says, in order to be competitive, the U.S. must be the single best education nation in the world. “That’s why America will have the highest percentage of graduates from college of any nation in the world by 2020.”
Biden then talked about the Romney/Ryan budget plans that he says include extending tax breaks for affluent Americans at the expense of blue-collar workers.
Biden finished his speech by criticizing Republican claims that...

Here and Now

UW-La Crosse political science professor Tim Dale explains the significance of the decision both presidential campaigns made this week to begin airing advertisements in the Badger State.

Here and Now

Reporter Zac Schultz travels across Wisconsin to cover Vice President Joe Biden's campaign stop in Eau Claire and Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan's trip to De Pere this week.

Here and Now

Here and Now explores how young voters could influence the outcomes of the presidential election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney and the U.S. Senate race featuring Tommy Thompson and Tammy Baldwin this November.

The Obama and Romney campaigns are starting to spell out their positions on protecting the Great Lakes, though things are not as specific as some environmentalists would like.
Environmental groups held a presidential candidate forum in Ohio to talk about the Great Lakes. Both the Obama and Romney campaigns were invited, but only Obama representative Carol Browner showed up to speak. The former Obama administration advisor says the president has been committed to funding a major clean-up plan called the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, “The president has sought money for Great Lakes restoration.”
Andy Buchsbaum of the National Wildlife Federation says the president is again proposing $300 million for the initiative in the next year, but Buchsbaum says the financial commitment beyond that is less clear. "Given the fiscal crisis that's not surprising."
Buchsbaum also says the president has a strong record of trying to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, but a statement from...

State Democrats are calling on Republican Senate candidate Tommy Thompson to fire a campaign staffer who has criticized Democrat Tammy Baldwin for being a lesbian.
Thompson political director Brian Nemoir last week questioned whether Senate contender Tammy Baldwin had heartland values as Nemoir emailed a video of the congressional representative dancing at a gay pride event. Thompson this week said he was sorry about the mailing, was upset with Nemoir and gave him another role in the campaign.
State Democratic Party chair Mike Tate says it appears Nemoir's title was changed to political director weeks ago, and he has not been given new duties. "It appears that Tommy lied about that."
Thompson said Nemoir is no longer dealing with the media. New spokesperson Lisa Boothe put out a statement that says, "The Democrats' desperation knows no bounds, and they will do anything they can to divert Wisconsin voters' attention away from Tammy Baldwin's failed liberal record."  Nemoir...