Vukmir Contrasts Herself Against Baldwin at College Republicans Meeting

Senate candidate Leah Vukmir speaks to UW-Madison College Republicans (Will Kenneally/WSUM)

Author: Will Kenneally

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Leah Vukmir contrasted herself with her Democratic opponent Tammy Baldwin on health care and other issues as she spoke to the College Republicans of UW-Madison Tuesday.

Vukmir, a former nurse, criticized Baldwin’s support of public options for health insurance, saying she would “win the debate” on the issue of health care.

“Tammy Baldwin wants to take it a step further, she wants full government-run health care — BernieCare,” she said. “The quality of care is going to go down.”

Vukmir advocated what she said was her plan of patient-centered, free-market health care, saying she could beat Baldwin on the issue.

“I cannot wait to debate Tammy Baldwin on that stage … who do you think is going to win at that [health care] debate?” Vukmir added.

Vukmir also knocked Baldwin for what she described as a mishandled response to the scandal at the veterans affairs center in Tomah, Wisconsin.

“Tammy Baldwin ignored a whistleblower report that told her that a doctor was over-prescribing opioids,” she said. “I’m not going to let [her] forget that she turned her back on veterans.”

As Vukmir fielded questions from the audience, one attendee identified herself as a pro abortion-rights Republican and asked Vukmir if there was a place for her in the Republican Party.

“I don’t believe that the Republican Party is a single-issue party,” Vukmir said. “It’s hard for me to be anything but pro-life — I’m a nurse.”

“If you embrace the other principals that we have, you should be a part of this party,” Vukmir added.

Another audience member said he did not agree with everything the president was doing, and asked Vukmir how she would stand up to him.

“I am not afraid to stand up to my leadership, I’m pretty good at it,” Vukmir said.

She added that she would work to represent what she called her independent values in the Senate, but said she supports “a lot of what the president is doing.” Among that support is her endorsement of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Vukmir criticized Baldwin Tuesday for not immediately agreeing to meet with Kavanaugh when considering his nomination, and said she would do so if elected.

The Race

Tuesday’s event came the same day as a new Marquette Law School poll showed Vukmir trailing Baldwin 53-42 among likely voters. Less than one month ago, the race was much tighter with the same poll showing Baldwin and Vukmir neck-and-neck with 49 and 47 percent share of likely voters respectively.

Vukmir did not comment on the poll numbers at the event Tuesday, but campaign manager Jess Ward said in a statement that:

“This poll is a snapshot of a very competitive race. As Wisconsin voters learn more about Senator Baldwin’s failure at the Tomah VA, and her decision to cover things up, they will see first-hand how she has let our veterans down.”

The election for U.S. Senate will be held Nov. 6.