The two leading Republican candidates in the race for U.S. Senate leveled sharp attacks at one another Wednesday over who is better qualified to serve in Congress as all the GOP candidates spelled out their views at a Milwaukee forum.
Former Gov. Tommy Thompson called for big cuts at all federal agencies, including the Pentagon. And businessman Eric Hovde called for means testing for Social Security.
Businessman Mark Neumann and Assembly Speaker Scott Fitzgerald said they would use their past experience in government to attack the federal deficit.
The four spoke at an event at the Milwaukee Athletic Club, sponsored by Citizens for Responsible Government, also known as CRG Network, and Businesses for Wisconsin Jobs. They’ll face one another in the Aug. 14 primary, with the winner taking on U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., in November.
Each of the candidates emphasized his conservative credentials and told the luncheon crowd why he had the best background to address everything from the economy to paring the federal deficit.
The sniping between Hovde and Thompson started after their speeches.
Hovde told reporters at a news conference that the biggest difference between himself and front-runner Thompson is Hovde’s superior expertise on the economy and financial markets.
“I think these are issues I can talk about that, quite frankly, Tommy Thompson would have a hard time understanding,” said Hovde, who built a fortune in banking, finance and real
Thompson shot back.
“I would say anybody that makes those kind of statements is not very bright,” Thompson said. “And I would also say, you know, he doesn’t know anything.
“Who’s the one that created jobs in Wisconsin? Who’s the one that has balanced the budget 14 times? Who’s the one that has never taken TARP money or any stimulus money? Me.
“I think Eric Hovde better be more concerned about the money he took and where he got it than worrying about me. I don’t worry about him. I don’t worry about anybody. I worry just exactly about me.”
Hovde, who owns community banks, says that he never received money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, but that like many stock market investors, some companies in
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