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Health Care Takes Center Stage in Wisconsin Senate Debate

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo

Baldwin has tried to paint Thompson as a politician beholden to special interests, citing Medicare Part D and his time as a lobbyist as examples of why he is not as strong on issues affecting the middle class. Baldwin, like many other Democrats, focused on the tax code and played up her support of the so-called Buffett Rule, which would raise taxes on Americans making more than $1 million.

"I'll be the voice for the people, not the powerful," Baldwin said.

Thompson said raising taxes in a slow economy would harm the struggling recovery.

The hour-long debate seemed to be a contest between two veteran politicians trying to define the other as more out-of-touch, with Baldwin claiming Thompson champions the rich at the expense of middle America and Thompson saying Baldwin "is so far out there, she is not in the mainstream," a key message of his campaign.

But on a high school football Friday night, it's unclear how many Wisconsinites were tuned in to get that message, or if either rang truer.

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