Republican Tommy Thompson labeled his Democratic opponent in Wisconsin’s Senate race, Rep. Tammy Baldwin, "anti-Israel" and "anti-Jewish" over her past votes against some Iran sanctions bills. (The race was already a focus of fighting over Israel policy, with the anti-Obama Emergency Committee for Israel launching TV ads against Baldwin, and the dovish J Street producing a video defending her.)
The Muskego Patch reports:
"Tammy Baldwin, her whole record is anti-Israel," Thompson said at a press conference in Wauwatosa. "She voted for the first time for the sanctions three months ago because she knew she was running for the U.S. Senate. That is the lamest excuse I’ve ever heard.
"She’s anti-Israel, she’s anti-Jewish and she’s trying to now somehow obfuscate her views and her intentions," the former governor added.
The Baldwin campaign was quick to respond that Thompson was off base.
"First, it’s flat-out false," said John Kraus, Baldwin’s campaign manager. "It’s a dishonest and desperate charge."
Thompson apparently later attempted to clarify that he had meant that Baldwin is anti-Israel, as opposed to anti-Jewish.
As Politifact Wisconsin notes, Baldwin had been among a very small number of House Democrats to vote against several Iran sanctions bills. Politifact — which did some serious research on her voting record on the issue — called her more recent votes in favor of sanctions legislation since she entered the Senate race "a major reversal of position."
In a recent appearance at a forum sponsored by the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, Baldwin referred to Israel as "our most important ally and friend in the world" and touted her supper for U.S. aid to the country. She also cited a trip she took to Israel at the age of 6 with her Jewish grandfather.
Commentator Gerald Glazer took exception to the assertion that Baldwin is anti-Israel. Regarding her Iran sanctions votes, he offered the following theory:
In my view, she cast some ultra-liberal votes as the representative of an ultra-liberal constituency in Madison. Now that she is running statewide, she has modified her views to appeal to a broader constituency. ( Mitt Romney did likewise when he switched from running in Massachusetts to running nationwide for President.) In other words, she is a politician.