MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks remained a focus of Wisconsin's U.S. Senate race for a second week, as Republican Tommy Thompson released another ad on the topic in the waning days of the campaign against Democrat Tammy Baldwin.
Democrats, meanwhile, continued to question Thompson's work in the private sector and on Monday pointed to a $125,000 stock payout he reported receiving earlier this month from a troubled medical device company.
The highly negative and hard-fought race for the open seat, which could determine which party controls the Senate, has attracted nearly $50 million in spending, making it the most expensive in state history. Polls show it to be essentially tied as the election nears in just eight days.
While the candidates talk in their stump speeches about their plans for improving the economy and addressing funding shortfalls for Medicare, ads in recent days have veered in a different direction and instead focused on 9/11 and Iran.
Thompson first brought up the Sept. 11 attacks last week in an ad criticizing Baldwin's 2006 vote against a resolution to honor victims. She voted nine times for similar resolutions, but didn't that year because of other language added praising Republican initiatives she had opposed.
Relatives of 9/11 victims and first responders voiced their support for Baldwin and called on Thompson to remove the ad.
Baldwin countered with her own spot accusing Thompson of profiting from the disaster after he got paid $3 million from a company that won a contract to handle health care needs of first responders. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee launched a new radio ad Monday attacking Thompson on that.
On Sunday, Thompson released his second 9/11 ad in which he calls it shameful for Baldwin to have attacked him on that issue. The ad then says Baldwin "fought to block funding that provides body armor for our troops just to make a political point."
However, the headline shown in the ad, "Baldwin Wanted to Block Body Armor Funding for Combat Troops," was taken from a blog post by a conservative radio host. That post was itself in response to another blog post by the group Media Trackers that referred to a bill Baldwin supported that would allow taxpayers to withhold military funding.
Baldwin's campaign countered that the bill she supported would not have resulted in any overall reduction in military spending and pointed to numerous proposals she backed that would increase funding for body armor and the troops.