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Feingold Counting on Being Underestimated

“The straw that broke this camel’s back was when he was the deciding vote on the health care bill,” he told the booing crowd. “Let’s face it, that health care bill is designed to lead to a government-run takeover of our health care system, which is exactly what Russ Feingold wants.”

No Dancing in the End Zone

Johnson went to the Packers game on Sunday morning — they beat the Buffalo Bills, 34-7 — but he didn’t show for a debate that Feingold had agreed to in Eau Claire on Sunday night. Feingold used it as a rally instead, occasionally addressing a podium to his left labeled with Johnson’s name, and he didn’t shy away from his more controversial votes.

“We were right to pass the Recovery Act, we were right to pass the stimulus bill. Out of the some $800 billion in the bill, $300 billion almost was for direct tax cuts for 95 percent of all working families in America,” he said. “Are you against that, Mr. Johnson? I can’t seem to get an answer.”

Following the rally, retired middle-school math teacher Paul Hoff, 76, explained why Feingold is the only candidate he has ever given to on a monthly basis.

“I guess he kind of took the place of Sen. [William] Proxmire as my political hero,” he said, citing Feingold’s stance on human rights and the stimulus. “I just know Russ so well, and I trust him.”

That trust will be tested in the final weeks of the campaign. Both candidates told their supporters to brace for the worst from the other side.

Each has tried to paint the other as out of touch: Feingold says Johnson can’t empathize with the working class because he’s so wealthy and has never dealt with many of Wisconsin’s industries; Johnson says Feingold can’t understand those concerns because he’s been a politician for nearly 30 years. Both urged their supporters to ignore the accusations, and Feingold urged his supporters in Eau Claire to ignore stories about a Democratic enthusiasm gap.

“What should you do now?” Feingold said as he concluded his Eau Claire rally. “Well, what you have to do is understand that the other side is already dancing in the end zone, like who is that Viking receiver who used to be awful about that? Randy Moss!”

And so it goes: If there’s one thing everybody in Wisconsin can agree on, it’s how terrible the Vikings are.

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