Who won the first Republican Senate debate

Posted by admin on June 25, 2010

Who won the first Republican Senate debate between party-endorsed millionaire candidate Ron Johnson and party-rejected not-a-millionaire candidate Dave Westlake? That’s easy: Sen. Russ Feingold.

All the Democratic incumbent had to do was sit back and watch his prospective challengers self-destruct — or, to be more precise, explode like a BP rig.

Asked whether they shared the view of Big Oil-funded members of Congress like Texas Republican Joe Barton, who suggested that holding BP to account for the cost of cleaning up the Gulf Coast is a “shakedown,” Johnson and Westlake dove into the goo.

Westlake called the $20 billion fund the White House pressed the corporation to set up to pay claims resulting from the oil spill “nothing more than a shakedown of BP.”

That should have been an opening for Johnson to distance himself from a position that Republican leaders in the House and Senate have declared to be extreme and wrongheaded.

Instead, Johnson climbed in bed with BP.

The wealthy candidate derided the Obama administration’s efforts to get money to pay for claims that are all but certain to exceed $20 billion “very troubling.”

All that was left for Feingold’s campaign to do was issue a statement observing that the Republican contenders seemed to be “out of touch” — not just with the great mass of Americans but with thinking conservatives, who have been at great pains to distance themselves from Barton’s BP lovefest.

“The fact that both Republican candidates came out in opposition to holding BP accountable for the worst environmental disaster in our country’s history shows just how addicted the GOP is to big oil special interests and how out of touch they are with Wisconsin,” said Feingold campaign aide John Kraus. “It should come as no surprise that Ron Johnson would oppose the BP fund since he has already said this is not the time to be beating up on big oil. But it’s very telling that Johnson sees BP as the victim, not our environment or the people whose lives are turned upside down by the reckless actions of BP.”

Johnson’s campaign recognized that a mistake had been made. The campaign quickly released a statement attacking Feingold’s camp for calling attention to what the Republican contenders had said.

Unfortunately, the transcript was clear: Both Westlake and Johnson criticized the Obama administration for moving to hold BP to account.

That Ron Johnson’s campaign wanted to obscure the fact comes as no surprise.

Johnson should be embarrassed.

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Last modified on June 25, 2010

Categories: State
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