Thoughts from inside the Feingold campaign

Just a few tidbits from a recent conference call with John Kraus, senior strategist for Senator Russ Feingold’s reelection campaign:

  • On health care reform being signed into law: Health care reform is a HUGE benefit to the campaign – good policy is also good politics. In getting health care reform signed into law Democrats showed they can govern – they got something done that people have been working on for decades. Democrats have been fighting the fight for decades, and now they’ve won the fight. If the contrast in this election is Sen. Feingold who fought insurance companies to fix a broken health care system vs. opponents who want to “repeal and replace” the Democratic health care reform legislation (but who realistically can’t or won’t), voters are smart enough to catch on to the fact that Republicans can’t live up to what they’re promising to do. Kraus hopes health care reform is a big issue come November, because it’s a winner for Sen. Feingold.
  • Where do we go from here? The focus in Washington D.C. will now shift towards jobs & the economy, because those are the issues people want to see some movement on now that health care reform is done.
  • What about the “Tommy factor” in this race? We’ve been through this dance before…Sen. Feingold’s campaign will make sure to be a part of Sec. Thompson’s conversation about getting into the race. Tommy Thompson wants the attention that comes with speculation that he’ll get into the race, but he doesn’t want to answer any tough questions about his record. The campaign is ready for Tommy Thompson, because voters will have a really clear choice in the election.

    Additionally, Tommy Thompson also has a “pre-existing condition” problem on health care reform, because he was for it before he was against it. How could he go to tea party rallies and talk about his record on health care reform with any credibility? Also, Tommy Thompson and former president George W. Bush had opportunities to get health care reform done during Bush’s administration, but they couldn’t/wouldn’t. It’s also worth noting the “donut hole” in Medicare prescription costs was implemented by Tommy Thompson during the Bush administration, and the Democratic health care reform legislation Sen. Feingold voted in favor of helps close the hole.

  • What about the recent Research 2000 polling in Wisconsin that showed Sen. Feingold beating all three of his possible Republican opponents in a head-to-head race? There will be plenty of polls between now and election day, and the campaign doesn’t spend a lot of time paying attention to polls, and neither do voters. Polls are just a snapshot in time, and ultimately the only poll that matters is in November.
  • Who’s the preferred Republican candidate for Sen. Feingold in the general election? Tommy Thompson isn’t viewed as the strongest threat, but his corporate backers are a threat, and the campaign will need to counteract that effect on the race. Terrence Wall is also able to pour millions upon millions of dollars into the race (Wall has said he’d need to spend $7-$10 million to beat Sen. Feingold), so he certainly needs to be taken seriously as well.

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