Tommy Thompson

What is it with Wisconsin? Just in the past year we've had the defeat of Russ Feingold, the war over Scott Walker and now...the tarring of Tommy Thompson. It's gone mostly unnoticed amidst all the drama of the Republican presidential primary, but the biggest congressional primary showdown -- 2012's answer to the 2010 battles that produced Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell and Ken Buck, among others -- is shaping up over the right to take on Iraq war veteran Tammy Baldwin for the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Herb Kohl.

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There's been some online chortling today about some seemingly off-message comments by Tommy Thompson, the lugubrious-looking former Wisconsin governor, who is planning to seek the open Senate seat in Wisconsin next year. Thompson, who also served as HHS secretary under George W. Bush, made some unusual comments about end of life care, suggesting that many Americans go out of their way to approve extreme measures to keep their older family members alive in the final stages of life out of guilt over not having spent enough time with them.

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In a normal world, Republicans would look at Mitt Romney, who is announcing his second run for their party’s presidential nomination today, as a sterling example of one of their party’s greatest success stories since the Reagan era. Unfortunately, it’s that very success that his party seems to have willfully forgotten—and the thing that’s most likely to doom Romney’s candidacy. The problem is much bigger than Romney’s health care reform in Massachusetts.

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Tommy Thompson is a popular former Wisconsin governor and Bush-era HHS Secretary. When Senator Herb Kohl announced his retirement, Republican leaders tabbed him to run for the seat, and his candidacy would give the party by far its strongest chance of winning. Unfortunately, Thompson not only endorsed plans very similar to the Affordable Care Act -- something a great many Republicans did prior to 2009 -- he virtually endorsed the plan itself. And now conservatives want somebody else to run. See if you can detect a theme in these comments: “The world has changed, politically.

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Paul Ryan has said he does not plan to run for the open Senate seat in Wisconsin. Former governor and HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson does plan to run. Thompson is popular and would give Republicans a strong chance to pick up the Senate seat. on the other hand, he repeatedly endorsed the Affordable Care Act: Washington, D.C.

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We don't know how the battle of Wisconsin will turn out, but there are a lot of straws in the wind, and they all suggest labor is winning. Consider: 1. The polls show the public is siding with labor. One poll, by the Democratic firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner but using straightforward questions, shows the majority of Wisconsin voters oppose Scott Walker's anti-union moves. Another national poll from Gallup shows a national majority of voters would oppose a change like the one Walker is proposing. (A Rasmussen poll found different results, but seems to be transparently cooked.) 2.

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Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s budget proposal has gotten a lot of attention for what it would do to the state’s public employee unions. And rightly so. If Walker gets his way, state workers will lose virtually all power to negotiate over compensation and the unions themselves will become far weaker. As Greg Sargent noted on Monday, a Walker victory would likely embolden Republican governors in other states, many of whom are planning their own assaults on public employees. But that’s not all Walker’s budget proposal would do.

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Does the Obama administration have any idea at all what it wants out of its development efforts? In a recent speech at SAIS at Johns Hopkins, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Washington’s new six-year, $63 billion Global Health Initiative. She was at pains to differentiate the administration from its predecessor—yet one more recapitulation of a by now familiar trope, but one that is particularly disingenuous in the case of global health, where the Bush administration’s record actually was very good.

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Ames Casualties

Tommy Thompson calls it quits. I think he can still lay claim to the worst campaign gaffe of '07, though granted, the year's not over yet... --Bradford Plumer

McCain still looks stiff and halting, not 100 percent ready for prime time. Then Tommy Thompson fields the next question ... and makes McCain sound like Pat Sajack. Romney, if memory serves, gave almost the exact same spiel he gave last time out when asked about Iraq. It doesn't sound bad at first blush, but then you think about it, and wonder the hell he's talking about. (Shia and Sunni collaborating against us, etc.) Giuliani seemed relaxed and eager to get to what he does best in these venues, which is bait Democrats.

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