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Sen. Johnson tours local manufacturing plant

» Menard touts candidate’s understanding of business» Feingold aide counters thatchallenger fights for middle class

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    Touring the Midwest Manufacturing prehung plant Wednesday in Eau Claire are, from left, Kip Stuebs, general manager of the plant; Menards owner John Menard; and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.

    Staff photo by Dan Reiland
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Touting his experience in manufacturing, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson says he is the best candidate for moving Wisconsin forward.

Johnson, a Republican, toured Midwest Manufacturing on Wednesday in Eau Claire. The 285,000-square-foot door manufacturing facility is a subsidiary of Menards.

Johnson said he likes to tour manufacturing facilities and hear how he can help make manufacturers’ jobs easier.

“You come here, find out what’s on people’s minds and what challenges they face,” Johnson said after a 30-minute tour of the facility, where he watched doors being put together and piled on pallets to be shipped off to stores.

Menards owner John Menard was thrilled to have Johnson at the business, where he met with the 140 Midwest Manufacturing employees.

“He’s a down-to-earth guy who understands manufacturing,” Menard said. “He really encourages manufacturing in the United States.”

Menard said it was important to have Johnson see the inside of a facility like Midwest Manufacturing.

“If he sees what is going on, hopefully he’ll be able to tell congressmen back in Washington what we need here in Podunk, Wisconsin,” Menard said with a laugh.

Johnson said voters will have a “clear choice” when they vote in November, as he talked about his years working in the manufacturing industry and creating jobs. He claimed that his opponent, former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, is a career politician who doesn’t understand what businesses need.

Feingold spokeswoman Amelia Penniman said Feingold’s ideas show he understands the economic issues and is best able to address them.

“Russ is the only candidate in this race who is actually fighting for an economy that works for everyone,” Penniman said. “He’ll fight to export Wisconsin products — not jobs, make higher education affordable for middle class families and fight to raise the minimum wage. Russ believes that the economy should work for everyone, not just corporate CEOs, multimillionaires like Sen. Johnson, and the billionaires funding his reelection bid.”

During his visit, Johnson also answered several questions about presidential candidate Donald Trump. Earlier this week, Trump made comments about gun rights, pertaining to the Second Amendment, that some critics have interpreted as a threatening statement toward his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. Johnson said the comments are being overblown.

“I just interpret that as Second Amendment rights are very important,” Johnson said. “And I know Donald Trump shares that view. From my point, I understood what he was talking about.”

Johnson reiterated his support for Trump, saying he wants to deliver Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes for the Republican candidate. He contends that Clinton would appoint judges who could take away some rights of gun owners.

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