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Tommy Thompson's Tea Party Toil Tommy Thompson's Tea Party Toil

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Politics

Tommy Thompson's Tea Party Toil

June 25, 2012

Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson sits atop the polls in Wisconsin's Senate race, but he doesn't seem to be in any rush to get in the good graces of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

During a recent appearance before a tea party group, a member of the audience challenged Thompson's claim that he would bring people together in the Senate.

"However, Mitch McConnell or whoever is running the show for the Republicans is going to tell you: Hey, you just showed up here in January," the man said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Thompson replied: "Mitch McConnell is not supporting me in the primaries, so I couldn't care less."

Thompson also ended the meeting with the Lake Country Area Defenders of Liberty on a high note, addressing another audience member who criticized him earlier at the event.

"I don't want to over-talk so you get mad at me again," Thompson said. "So I'll get the hell out of here."

The incident is entertaining, but also revealing of why many GOP strategists don't expect Thompson's early lead in the GOP primary to last very long. In the most recent Marquette University Law School poll, Thompson leads his Republican opponents by double digits. But he sits at 34 percent with a quarter of primary voters undecided -- a tenuous position for a former four-term governor.

With opponents painting him as a moderate who is out of step with the modern GOP, Thompson needs to shore up his support among the far right flank of the party who tend to vote in primaries at a high rate. Contentious exchanges with local tea party groups will do little to help that cause.

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