I was at a Tom Barrett recognition and fundraising event earlier tonight at the historic Cardinal Bar here in Madison. Tom was being endorsed and recognized by FairWisconsin for his ongoing support of LGBT rights. The event was kicked off with an introduction of Democratic Representative Tammy Baldwin by longtime activist Dick Wagner. Tammy Baldwin in turn introduced Tom Barrett.
In her introduction she stated how important Tom had been to her as a mentor when she entered Congress. To support this fact, she expounded on how she had followed Tom as a member of committees he had previously been on including the Judiciary Committee and the Energy & Commerce Committee. She said that she was a huge supporter of Tom’s but wouldn’t be following him to become a mayor and a Governor given how happy she was to be a legislator. After being introduced, Tom talked about being mocked as a kid given his initials T.B. standing for tuberculosis, to which he responded to their bullying and said no, it stood for “The Best”. Today he said that with both he and Tammy sharing the initials T.B. that she was certainly “the best”.
One of Tom’s more memorable lines was that the “Tea Party reminded him of Alice and Wonderland”. He stated that Mark Neumann and Scott Walker were moving so far to the right that they’d be coming up on him from the left, which he dramatically demonstrated with a rapid whirl. He also said that his entering the race was in part because he had seen the damage done by Mark Neumann and Scott Walker in reversing and halting progress in a broad range of areas and that the people of Wisconsin didn’t need to see this happening here. He said his focus as Governor would be on jobs and jobs and more jobs, while cautioning that both Scott Walker and Mark Neumann saw their mission as cutting taxes for the weatlhy with proposed tax cuts estimated at $1.8 billion, even though the state is already in a multi-billion dollar deficit.
The biggest takeaway from the event was how personable and effective Tom was in front of an audience. His message is clear, crisp and concise. He engages the audience in a very positive fashion and through his comments and statements shows a high level of integrity.