GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson compared the upcoming election with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks during his speech at the state Republican Party convention on Saturday.
Johnson, who is running for re-election against Democrat Russ Feingold, marveled at how passengers on United Flight 93 took a vote before storming the cabin to fight the hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001, forcing the plane to crash in a Pennsylvania field.
"We've all heard Todd Beamer's iconic words 'Let's roll,'" Johnson told about 1,000 party faithful. "How American is that? We have a job to do, let's roll up our shirt sleeves. Let's get it done."
He then compared the passengers' vote with the upcoming election.
"The reason I like telling that story now as we head into the election season is we all know what we need to do," Johnson said. "November 2016 we'll be taking a vote. We'll be encouraging our fellow citizens to take a vote. Now, it may not be life and death, like the vote passengers on United Flight 93 took, but boy is it consequential."
Johnson was asked later by a reporter whether telling the story of a tragic plane crash implies that he's worried about winning his race.
"I actually feel pretty good about the campaign," Johnson said.
Polls show Johnson trailing Feingold as he tries to retain his Senate seat in what is expected to be one of the most hotly contested races in the country. Democrats see a chance to pick up the seat in a presidential year when turnout for their side has traditionally been higher in Wisconsin. No Republican senator in Wisconsin has been elected in a presidential year since 1980.
Johnson said if Republicans get energized for his race, they can "save this Senate seat."
Feingold's campaign spokesman Michael Tyler said in reaction that "It's beyond bad taste for a sitting senator to compare a horrific national tragedy — one that united all Americans — to his own partisan re-election."
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