Obama stumps in surprise battleground state
September 22nd, 2012
04:21 PM ET
2 years ago

Obama stumps in surprise battleground state

Milwaukee, Wisconsin (CNN) - His campaign thought Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes were in the bag long ago, but President Barack Obama's trip here Saturday is the latest indicator that both sides believe the Badger State has become a toss-up.

The president touches down in the state Saturday for the first time in more than 200 days, set to attend two fund-raisers that will net his campaign more than $600,000 as well as an evening rally at a large amphitheater on the banks of Lake Michigan.

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“It is great to be back in Milwaukee,” Obama said to an enthusiastic crowd at the evening rally, taking the stage 30 minutes early as rain clouds moved in above. “I don’t see a lot of victims here today,” he added later, “I see a lot of hardworking Wisconsinites.”

While Obama carried the state by a commanding 14 points in 2008 and has been up in the polls here for most of the year, the Romney campaign long ago eyed Wisconsin as a potential obstacle for the president in his re-election effort. Romney officials opened more than 20 field offices throughout the state and have injected hundreds of thousands in advertising dollars in recent weeks.

Should Obama lose the state's 10 electoral votes, the Romney campaign's now-narrow path to victory suddenly gets some much-needed breathing room.

Moreover, Republican officials point out, much has changed in Wisconsin since 2008. After the manufacturing-heavy economy was hit particularly hard by the recession, Wisconsinites overwhelmingly elected conservative Scott Walker as governor in 2010.

Walker, who campaigned heavily on a plank of significant spending cuts, faced a recall election a year later largely fueled by unions and the state Democratic Party. But Obama notably kept his distance from the recall effort, wary that a Walker win would be portrayed as an Obama loss if the president injected his name into the battle.

Walker ultimately survived the recall - a result that some Wisconsin Democrats grumbled could have gone the other way if the president had flexed his muscle. Now, Republicans are hoping lingering hard feelings among local Democrats could hinder Obama's prospects in the state.

As for the Obama campaign, aides say they have long prepared for a hard fight, despite the fact that the president has not visited the state since February and has only recently gone up on the airwaves with television ads.

"We've always thought Wisconsin would be harder for us this year than it was four years ago," said Jen Psaki, a campaign spokeswoman.

Meanwhile, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina attributed the stronger-than-expected Romney performance here to a better ground game than that executed by the McCain campaign four years ago.

“They are stronger than McCain was in '08, no question, on the ground,” he told reporters Saturday. “But we continue to have a strategic advantage.”

Still, the president enjoyed a double-digit lead in the state for much of the year, even as the Romney campaign was forcefully ramping up its effort.

Then came the surprising pick of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate. What was once a double-digit lead dwindled to low single digits almost overnight.

While Obama maintains a small but significant lead here (CNN's average of recent polls show him with a 9-point advantage), Republicans are quick to point out his long absence from the state.

"Obama is headed to Milwaukee after ignoring the state for 220 days," said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski. "Some things have changed since he's been gone, including a massive GOP ground game making over a million voter contacts."

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Filed under: 2012 • President Obama • Scott Walker • Wisconsin
soundoff (127 Responses)
  1. Karl Jonas

    Wisconsin is not a toss up. The Real Clear Politics average of Wisconsin polls has Obama up by 7 points. Nate Silver's 538 model gives Obama an 83.3% chance of winning Wisconsin.

    September 22, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  2. rosco

    What are you doing about our dead Ambassador Mr pres ????

    September 22, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  3. 1608

    if you think the potus has to come to your town to vote, you are a losee

    September 22, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  4. dee

    yeah they did elect a republican govenor, but later on they regretted it once he decided to try to screw the workers/unions. I bet they learned from that mistake and will not make it again.

    September 22, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  5. mike Lake Orion Michigan

    This guys a stump allright. The only reason some people think he is cool is because he talks like a thug!

    September 22, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  6. Rick McDaniel

    Wisconsin has had enough of the Democratic take over of America.

    September 22, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  7. rosco

    Mr. Reid should explain to all of us how he became a millionaire on a bureaucrat's salary. Mitt Romney earned his money by investing in companies, people and creating jobs in the private sector while Harry Reid made his money by taking money from the private sector and redistributing it through government."

    Mr. Buell also pointed out that Nevada has had the highest unemployment rate in the country.

    September 22, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  8. korak

    Ann Romney Fly’s a Canadian Aircraft.what massage does that send to American aircraft manufacturers and the hard working employees toiling day and night to promote the Made in America brand? Canadair Ltd. was a civil and military aircraft manufacturer in Canada. It was a subsidiary of other aircraft manufacturers, then a nationalized corporation until privatized in 1986, and became the core of Bombardier Aerospace.
    Canadair’s origins lie in the foundation of a manufacturing centre for Canadian Vickers in the Montreal suburb of Saint-Laurent, at Cartierville Airport. Canadair Plant One is still there, although the airport no longer exists.

    September 22, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  9. ChrisTX

    Where are your articles on Obama's failed presidency? The economic woes, our low GDP, the deficit, the egypt non-ally gaffe, the Libyan lies about the killings of our 4 esteemed Americans ("spontaneous-yeah right"}, where are the serious and real questions?? Romey's return? Who cares? No wonder you're ratings are in the tubes.

    September 22, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  10. rosco

    President Obama's failure to turn around the economy and get America working again is the reason Wisconsin voters are looking for a different path."

    September 22, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  11. Larry G

    In a country where the deck is stacked against you giving CORPORATE WELFARE to OIL COMPANIES forever while they STICK IT TO US while making RECORD PROFITS & allowing 18,000 households making $500,000 to COUNTLESS MILLIONS/BILLIONS per year to pay ZERO INCOME TAXES due to the TAX-LOOPHOLES for the RICH ALREADY, why in the hell would anyone who isn't ALREADY RICH vote for someone who wants to give "THESE PEOPLE" more TAX-BREAKS than they've already got? And yet they are in the 47% of ROMNEY'S "VICTIMS"! These are the same people screaming Class Warfare while they sell America Out, down the rive by OUTSOURCING JOBS for nothing more than PURE GREED while they line their pockets & up their BOTTOM-LINE! They want to PROTECT all these BREAKS & want more! HOW GREEDY can you get? TRICKLE-DOWN goes from one CEO's pocket to the other, that's all! Only 10% of Americans believe Mitt is for the middle class, NO WONDER!

    September 22, 2012 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  12. Gurgyl

    Obama12. Period.

    September 22, 2012 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  13. Rbays37

    If Obama's in WI shoring up support, than Romney better get down to Arizona to do the same.

    September 22, 2012 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  14. Rbays37

    IWhile Obama's in WI shoring up support, Romney better get to Arizona to do the same.

    September 22, 2012 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  15. apple pie

    Obama will win Wisconsin and almost every other "battleground state" with the exception of North Carolina and New Hampshire. The debates will only solidify this.

    September 22, 2012 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  16. Four and The Door

    "Obama is headed to Milwaukee after ignoring the state for 220 days," said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski. "Some things have changed since he's been gone, including a massive GOP ground game making over a million voter contacts."
    _______________________________________________________________________________________________
    Obama will find that his arrogance toward Wisconsin voters was misplaced. While he visited Ohio every other week, Wisconsin voters have been warming up to a Republican message that makes more and more sense with each month of poor results from the Obama Administration. Voters in every state are through listening to empty promises and no plan forward. It is time to stop playing politics and start delivering results across America. Romney/ Ryan 2012.

    September 22, 2012 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  17. Facepalm28

    Wisconsin is not going red, count on it. Polls already have Obama re-establishing his lead there, and the debates are just going to make it bigger.

    September 22, 2012 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  18. Ol fashion Republican

    i'll vote for Obama. At least i can trust him.

    September 22, 2012 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  19. Plain Joe

    Polls could go with his stumping.

    September 22, 2012 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  20. Louden Swain

    This guy is desperate

    September 22, 2012 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  21. Cheesehead

    Why are there no comments re. President Obama's feeble and unconvincing attempts at re-election?
    Where is the vitriol aimed at his failed, so-called initiatives?

    September 22, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  22. Phattee

    Scott Walker is a fully-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries.

    September 22, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  23. JGANUKEAPELSD

    JGA Phillip Anthony Biondo for President 2012 of the Fraternity Party! Kegs party at the White House! Free College like k-12. Free Healthcare. All safe drugs over the counter. Evolution, big bang, god of Milky Way. Fraternity party: I'm suing the supreme court Apes for freedom of Religion, I suffer from severe depression because holy medicines, primarily thc, psilocybin, mescaline, lsd, and dmt are illegal, in fact I committed suicide. I work for God so don't tell me it's not freedom of religion. Kill the DEA! They kill the music. Superhuman AI: 2045. Navy Nuclear Spaceships. Meditate. I'm a Sapien, what are you? Does Obama or Romney believe in global warming? We are like deer in the headlights.

    September 22, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  24. John

    A nine-point average lead in the polls as you describe is not close. That is an easy Obama win in Wisconsin. Who writes your headlines – somebody with the Romney campaign?

    September 22, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  25. standright

    Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day.

    Give a man an opportunity to get a job, and he can stop slobbering over your 'fishy' promises that will only last him a day and get you a vote.

    Oops, can't have that.

    September 22, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
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