Milwaukee, WI —
Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson's claim that an aide "acted on his own" in criticizing Wisconsin Rep. Tammy Baldwin's sexual orientation is being questioned.
Independent fact checker PolitiFact concluded that Thompson's statement deserves the group's "pants on fire" label.
Baldwin and her GOP rival Thompson are competing to capture the seat being vacated by Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl. If elected, Baldwin, 50, would become the first openly gay U.S. senator.
Just hours before Baldwin was to give her prime time speech at the Democratic National Convention (DNC), Brian Nemoir, political director for the Thompson campaign, sent an e-mail and tweeted messages highlighting her appearance at a 2010 Gay Pride event.
Referring to Baldwin's assertion that her speech would focus on "heartland values," Nemoir wrote, "Clearly, there's no one better positioned to talk 'heartland values' than Tammy."
The attached video shows Baldwin dancing on stage with the disco band VO5 as it plays the theme from Wonder Woman
. Baldwin hugs the group's frontwoman, who is appropriately dressed as the comic book heroine.
Thompson said he "thought it was a mistake, I'm sorry, and he's apologized, I believe. He shouldn't have done it" five days after the incident occurred.
Another Thompson aide, Darrin Schmitz, told reporters in an e-mail that Nemoir "acted on his own" and "he was not representing the Thompson campaign in this matter."
Thompson has also said that Nemoir's role in the campaign has since changed.
"This sounds like a good/bad cop routine," Darrell West, vice president and director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, told PolitiFact
. "This can be a very effective strategy if the media pick up the attack."
He added: "[M]aking an issue of someone's sexual orientation is not a casual decision. Campaigns think very carefully about the up and downside of that."