It is unbelievable that Feingold, a critic of TARP, is paying for Obama's bailouts. He is trailing in polls to Russ Johnson. Obama has lost popularity in Wisconsin. Big deal. Hasn't Feingold been right on many issues, including TARP? Why can't he use that to distance himself from big government abuse that seems to be a big deal with certain democrats that are not tea partiers but find some resonance in the message.
What Feingold needs to do is show his independence on issues without going overboard in demonizing Obama. He needs to be out campaigning in townhalls in Reagan Democratic Wisconsin and bust the misperceptions of his career. He needs to be spending money energizing the base to show up at the polls because base turnout will be important to counter the polling numbers.
From this article in the Dystopian Wisconsinite:
Much like many of this year's tea party-associated GOP candidates, one of Johnson's core campaign points is criticism of the financial bailout. Funny then that Johnson's campaign has been the beneficiary of the largess of the very corporations he believes should not have received bailout money.
For example, the cash Johnson received from the Financial Services Roundtable PAC on August 27 and the American Bankers Association PAC on July 8 and July 30 came from, amongst others, hardcore Treasury bailout beneficiaries such as JP Morgan Chase, SunTrust, Bank of America, Regions Financial, Zions and First Horizon. The money Ron Johnson received from the Bluegrass and Senate Majority Fund PACs came, in part, from one of the greatest bailout beneficiaries of them all, Goldman Sachs. Despite statements about staying out of politics this cycle, Goldman donated to both PACs on March 31 of this year. On June 24, Ron Johnson's campaign received two $5,000 donations from the Bluegrass PAC, a day later the campaign received two donations from the Senate Majority PAC in the same amounts.
Johnson's actions also bely the no-interference from government creed he subscribes to in the campaign.
Johnson demands a smaller, less-involved government, saying our current one is "robbing the bank accounts of future generations of Americans." But even while Johnson calls government spending and subsidies a "threat to our freedom" and insists "government doesn't create jobs," he refuses to acknowledge that his company received millions of dollars in industrial revenue bonds. Johnson's campaign maintains the money he received was not a government handout. Yet this exact form of government subsidized loan is what fiscal conservative temple The Cato Institute calls "corporate welfare."
As everyone debates whether or not this constitutes a government subsidy, the blog Uppity Wisconsin reveals Johnson's membership on the board of an industrial development corporation partly funded by the city and county that "has successfully helped area business apply for and secure over a million dollars in Customized Labor Training (CLT) grants… designed to assist companies that are investing in new technologies or manufacturing processes by providing a grant of up to 50% of the cost of training employees on the new technologies." Yet, Johnson insists that subsidization "doesn't work through the free market system very well."
Feingold needs to really ramp up his election campaign. He needs to be a top priority for the Democratic Party to protect. Part of his undoing has been his own fault. WHile he has taken the right stances, he has not done enough to make his views known to the casual political observer alloiwing someone like Johnson to paint him as someone who rubberstamps Obama's decisions.
To his credit, Feingold has tried to engage Johnson in as many debates as possible. But Johnson wisely limited it to three. In absence of debate, Feingold really needs to highlight the disingenuous nature of Johnson's campaign using blunt descriptions. He has to fight like that weasel Lieberman did. He has to convey the message that while Obama's presidency and the current senate may have indeed been a disappointment, no one wants to go back to the years prior to 2008 which brought us this mess. He has to clearly illustrate his record that he has worked with Obama on what is sensible and has opposed measures that worked against the people(this approach won't paint him as an opportunist cashing in on the anti-Obama wave).
I think part of Feingold's downfall is that he did not step up loudly enough on issues like TARP the way other senators held up other Obama measures. So the casual voter never noticed it.