Feingold, Baldwin visit campus ahead of election


Kimberly Wethal

Students and Community members applaud Feingold after sharing his stances on issues like healthcare and immigration.

Nathan Kober , Staff Writer

With the election only a few weeks away, the various Whitewater Democratic campaigns are ramping up their effort to register voters and find volunteers.

Former Senator Russ Feingold, who is running against incumbent Senator Ron Johnson, made his case to voters in Whitewater at Heide Hall on Tuesday Oct. 18. Members of the Whitewater College Democrats and Whitewater for Hillary campaign were in attendance, and local candidates also showed up to gain support for their races.

The College Pitch

Feingold made his case to college students by citing the need for student loan reform. In March 2015, senate Democrats proposed a bill that would allow students to refinance the interest on their loans, but the amendment was rejected by a 46-53 vote. Feingold said the bill will pass with a democratic senate.

“We’re going to send it up to Hillary Clinton for her signature,” Feingold said.

Young people are the democratic party’s largest voting block, although they are also the age group least likely to vote. Senator Tammy Baldwin, who has been campaigning with Johnson, stressed the importance of voting early on and making it a habit.

“I just think it’s so important that people cast their first vote after they become of voting age to create a lifelong habit of participation,” Baldwin said.

The Party Sweep

Although Feingold’s race was the center of the event, both him and Baldwin stressed the importance of local elections and the presidential election. With the democratic party poised to take back the senate, both Baldwin and Feingold made the case for sweeping political change at the national level.  

To make their case, Feingold and Baldwin contrasted their views on climate change, healthcare and immigration with the views of their opponents.

Feingold took shots at both his opponent Johnson and Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, by pointing out they both deny the science of climate change. Trump has called climate change a Chinese hoax on Twitter, and Johnson has said it is likely caused by “sunspot activity”.

Feingold referenced climate change to malign the Republican Party for their refusal to cooperate on bipartisan issues. For a short time, he said, climate change was not considered a controversial subject.

“Ron Johnson and the tea party people came in and turned it into this ridiculous idea that they reject science,” Feingold said.

Feingold also worked with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) on campaign finance reform. Now he said that sort of cooperation has become impossible.

“The American people are sick and tired of this gridlock,” Feingold said.

Defending Progress

Baldwin brought up her record on healthcare and college affordability, going back to the beginning of her political career. Both her and Feingold contrasted their platform on healthcare with Johnson, who said he would like to overturn the affordable care act and let insurance companies deny people coverage based on preexisting conditions.

This was the message on immigration as well. Feingold railed against proposals to deport all undocumented immigrants, saying those views are out of touch with most Americans.

“What we need is a path to legal status for the people who are already here,” Feingold said.

As the first woman to be elected senator from Wisconsin, and the first openly gay U.S. senator in history, Baldwin stressed the importance this year’s elections could have on social issues.

“These elections are absolutely important for all three branches of government to be able to obtain the progress that’s been achieved of late,” Baldwin said.

Congress is currently holding a seat open on the Supreme Court in the hopes that Trump will nominate someone to fill it. Trump has said he would consider nominating someone who would overturn the marriage equality ruling from 2015.

Feingold has a comfortable lead in the polls, but with the election only a few weeks away his team is on a busy schedule supporting the Democratic party as a whole in Wisconsin. With both him and Baldwin, Feingold said Wisconsin will be the strongest Democratic state in the Senate.

“We’re going to be the best progressive combination of senators in the entire United States,” Feingold said.