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Barrett on CNN: Walker should have kept focus on jobs

Barrett on CNN: Walker should have kept focus on jobs

  • Updated

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said Sunday that Republican Gov. Scott Walker could have avoided being forced into a recall election if he had focused on creating jobs, as he had promised, instead of trying to destroy his political opponents.

Barrett, the Democrat challenging Walker in Tuesday's election, said on CNN's "State of the Union" program that recall elections should be rare.

"But this is a rare instance," he said. "You have a governor who did not campaign at all about having an attack on workers."

The drive to recall Walker, along with Wisconsin's Republican lieutenant governor and four GOP state senators, was sparked by a bill that Walker championed and sped through the Republican-led Legislature last year. The law stripped most public workers of collective bargaining rights and forced them to pay more for health insurance and pension benefits, which amounted to a pay cut.

Walker contends the moves were necessary to help balance what had been a $3.6 billion state budget shortfall. Democrats counter that the law's primary purpose was to eviscerate the unions, which tend to back their party.

Barrett said even after Walker extracted concessions on health care and pension from the unions, he stayed in attack mode.

"He wanted to go after his political opponents and permanently disarm them," Barrett said. "That's what this was all about, taking away their rights."

The CNN program's host, Candy Crowley, said she invited Walker to appear on the show as well, but was told his schedule was too tight.

Walker and Barrett spent the final weekend ahead of the election visiting voters across the state.

On Sunday their paths nearly crossed at a popular dairy breakfast in the town of Rockland in Brown County. Walker talked with people and greeted well-wishers while he dished out eggs and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch served sausages.

Mary Ann Hager, a 69-year-old retiree from Denmark, felt tears coming when she greeted the governor.

"Scott, I just wanted to wish you good luck," she told him. "You've got to keep it up."

Walker told attendees he feels good about the race, but that's it's close enough that he won't rest until 8:01 p.m. Tuesday, one minute after the polls close.

About 15 minutes after Walker left his egg station at the Brown County breakfast, Barrett took up the same spot. He also exchanged pleasantries with attendees who also wished him luck.

Walker scheduled additional stops Sunday at another dairy breakfast in Marathon County and a Republican volunteer center in Fitchburg. He was also expected to make a stop in Germantown with Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Barrett planned another campaign stop in Oshkosh with U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl on Sunday morning, followed by a meeting with voters in Stevens Point.

Associated Press writer Roger Schneider contributed to this report.

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