Barrett, Kleefisch weigh in post-debate

Representatives react in spin room

Tom Barrett
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett discusses his reaction to the Democratic debate in Milwaukee Thursday night.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch were among the Wisconsin politicians discussing the presidential race in the media spin room after Thursday’s Democratic debate.

Tom Barrett
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett discusses his reaction to the Democratic debate in Milwaukee Thursday night.

Barrett, who has thrown his support behind former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, said he expects the presidential race between Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders to be very competitive, but that he feels good about both Democrats’ ability to articulate a reasoned platform.

As for the anti-Wall Street rhetoric repeatedly mentioned by Sanders and Clinton during the debate, Barrett pointed out that neither had said anything negative about small business or entrepreneurs.

“They both recognize that small businesses really provide the growth in our economy,” Barrett said. “They’re concerned about the concentration of wealth.”

Kleefisch, who attended the debate with the Republican National Committee, said Sanders and Clinton were out of touch with the American voter.

“I was, as you might imagine, pretty disappointed with what I heard this evening,” Kleefisch said. “Some of what you heard tonight was downright silliness.”

Clinton’s tax plan would cost the U.S. 300,000 jobs, while Sanders’ would eliminate 3 million jobs, she said.

“We’re facing global headwinds. In order to head this off, we need good fiscal policy. I didn’t hear any of that tonight,” Kleefisch said.

Representatives of both Democratic candidates discussed the civil debate style of the candidates in comparison to the more contentious rhetoric used in the Republican debates.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz discusses her reaction to the Democratic debate in Milwaukee Thursday.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee, said after the debate that she was incredibly proud of both candidates’ depth and substance.

“When you listen to the Republican debate, you will listen to a bunch of jokers who will try to throw as many insults at each other and elbow each other off the stage,” Wasserman Schultz said.

See a photo gallery from the debate and related events shot by Milwaukee photographer Lila Aryan for PBS NewsHour.

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Molly Dill
Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.