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Tammy Baldwin says she is in "regular" contact with Biden campaign

Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin said she is in "regular contact" with Joe Biden and she has been working with his campaign, but she would not comment directly on whether she has discussed being his running mate. "I keep my counsel with the vice president's campaign private," she told CBSN's Tanya Rivero in an interview Monday.

Baldwin said she has advised the campaign "extensively" on her home state of Wisconsin, which Hillary Clinton narrowly lost in 2016, while Baldwin won by nearly 11 points in 2018. She also said she is participating in regularly in surrogate activities in this "virtual campaign age."

Asked about Tara Reade's allegation of sexual assault against Biden, Baldwin said she believes "every woman deserves the right to be heard and have hear story examined and analyzed." Baldwin said she has heard Biden "very firmly deny" the allegations, and he has "gone the next step" by asking for the release of any Senate records relating to Reade. 

Meanwhile, there will be a special election on May 12 in Wisconsin's 7th Congressional District one month after the state's controversial in-person primary elections amid the coronavirus pandemic. Baldwin called the April 7 elections "hard to watch."

"No voter or poll worker should have to choose between risking their health and exercising their constitutional right to vote," Baldwin said. 

Baldwin said she is "heartened" by the requests for "exceptional" requests for absentee ballots, saying it "speaks volumes about the need to ramp up vote-by-mail and expand absentee ballots throughout Wisconsin and the United States" ahead of the November election.

In Washington, Baldwin joined with Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri to call for an investigation of the consolidation of the meat packing industry. Four companies control 80% of the meat processing in the U.S., which Baldwin believes has "certainly led to more dangerous" conditions for workers amid the coronavirus pandemic. There have been a number of coronavirus outbreaks in meatpacking plants, leading to worries about the disruption of the food supply.

However, President Trump has ordered meat processing companies to reopen under the Defense Production Act. Baldwin said that the consolidation of the industry into just four major companies has led to "incredible political clout."

"You wonder if they used that clout to get the president of the United States to order folks back to work without getting worker safety standards issued in a enforceable and mandatory way," Baldwin said. 

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