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Feingold and Johnson Debate For 1st Time Friday Night

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Candidates for U.S. Senate Russ Feingold (D), left, and Ron Johnson (R). (courtesy of FOX 11).
Candidates for U.S. Senate Russ Feingold (D), left, and Ron Johnson (R). (courtesy of FOX 11).

WAUSAU, Wis. (WTAQ) - After months of firing shots from their campaign bunkers, Wisconsin’s two U.S. Senate candidates will finally debate face-to-face tonight.

18-year Democrat Russ Feingold and Oshkosh businessman Ron Johnson will appear on 79 radio and TV stations for one hour beginning at 8 p.m.

The Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Foundation is sponsoring the forum. It will give Feingold a chance to defend a record that’s come under heavy attack from Johnson and the Republicans. And political analysts expect Feingold to come out swinging, at least somewhat.

Feingold is slightly behind in the polls, in a year in which conservatives have already scored some big congressional victories around the country. For Johnson, the debate could give people a chance to know him better – and to make his case that an experienced businessman would represent Wisconsinites better.

Johnson may also be goaded into giving specifics about his plans for the economy – something he told the Milwaukee Press Club he wouldn’t do because it would result in his being attacked.

Earlier this week, the Journal Sentinel told how Johnson sticks to a script as much as possible at his campaign appearances, and has avoided long media interviews with national outlets. The story said it was part of a trend in which politicians speak directly to the voters while avoiding tough questions from reporters.

The Johnson camp denies that strategy, but Feingold spokesman John Kraus says tonight’s debate will give Johnson a real chance to stop being evasive. It’s the first of three Senate debates this month.

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