MADISON (WKOW) -- Former Republican governor Tommy Thompson says he's in the race for an open U.S. Senate, but will hold off on making a formal campaign announcement until the spring of 2012.
"I'm running because I want to make a difference," Thompson told a Madison lunch audience Monday at a forum sponsored by political web site Wispolitics.com.
Thompson said the Medicare program needs reform, and said he agreed with the overall approach to revision that's been offered by Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin). Ryan's plan would allow participants to use a market-based alternative to the government medical program for low-income people, and has been criticized by some as proposing an end to the program.
Thompson said end-of-life medical spending excesses have been driven at times by children of dying participants and said participant choices for care should be honored instead.
Thompson also said if elected to the Senate, he would try to spur the sagging economy. Thompson said he backs tieing the approval of additional energy exploration to a job fund that would boost U.S. manufacturing.
Thompson rejected claims made in paid political advertising that he supported President Obama's sweeping health care reforms. But Thompson said even though he opposes "Obamacare," he's prepared to offer changes to health care delivery and coverage. Thompson also said at least one national conservative group's claim that he does not rate the label of conservative is based on a faulty analysis of his record in government.
Republicans who have made formal announcements of candidacy for the seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Herb Kohl are state Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald and former Congressman Mark Neumann. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin is the only announced Democratic candidate.