Johnson tweaks 'career politician' labelRepublican U.S. Senate candidate Ron Johnson has attacked Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold relentlessly for being a "career politician" but changed his tune when he took the stage with gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker.
By: Shawn Johnson, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
MILWAUKEE -- Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ron Johnson has attacked Democratic Senator Russ Feingold relentlessly for being a "career politician." But Johnson made a subtle change to that label Thursday when he was sharing a stage with Republican gubernatorial nominee Scott Walker.
Johnson has spent millions on TV and radio ads. Some are autobiographical. Most make some reference to Feingold's time in government. One phrase has been a favorite. Ads have contained: "Russ Feingold? He's spent the last 30 years as a career politician,” and “Russ Feingold's a career politician. He twists words for a living."
Johnson is hardly the only candidate to use that "career politician" label this campaign cycle. Republican Mark Neumann used it extensively in his losing primary campaign against Walker, who has held elected office since 1993.
When Johnson shared a stage with Walker at the Republican Party's "Unity" press conference Thursday, he still went after Feingold. But he worded his attack slightly differently. He says “to me this race is pretty simple. It breaks down between Senator Feingold, who really has operated as an out of touch politician for the last 30 years."
Asked why he chose the term "out of touch" politician instead of "career" politician, Johnson said it was because he was concerned about politicians who don't respect the free market. Asked if he might be using the phrase more often, Johnson responded by saying “maybe that's a little more focused. I'm new to this. I'll have to get my terminology a little more accurate."
The "career politician" label is unlikely to be hurled at Scott Walker as frequently now that Neumann is out of the race. Democrat Tom Barrett's political career is longer than Walker's.
Feingold has challenged the label, saying that while he's proud of his government service, he also worked six years for private law firms.