Candidates squabble over ads, spending in Wisconsin debate
June 1st, 2012
12:11 AM ET
11 years ago

Candidates squabble over ads, spending in Wisconsin debate

(CNN) - A Democratic Milwaukee mayor who will face an incumbent governor in Wisconsin's recall election engaged his rival in a heated debate Thursday over a campaign ad about homicide records in the city.

Mayor Tom Barrett and Gov. Scott Walker were participating in their second debate before the June 5 gubernatorial recall vote.

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Barrett is facing Walker in a recall election after the latter made a controversial decision in 2011 to cut most collective bargaining rights for state employees.

A poll released Wednesday indicated the Republican governor holds a seven point advantage over his Democratic challenger.

In Thursday's debate, Barrett said Walker should be "ashamed" of an attack ad that suggests the mayor misrepresented his city's crime rate.

"It was a bureaucratic mistake and we said we'd fix that," Barrett said. "And you're running a commercial attacking my integrity, saying I had something to do with this. And you know that's false. You know that's false. And you're running that commercial."

Barrett added, "I'll tell you right now I had nothing to do with that. You should be ashamed of that commercial, Scott Walker."

Walker explained his campaign spot was meant to call into question his opponent's claims of cutting crime.

"The reason we're pointing that out is that all through the primary campaign, you told the people of this state that one of the key reasons people should vote for you is because your leadership in the city of Milwaukee brought about a drop in violent in crime. Violent crime has not gone down," Walker said.

Wisconsin's recall election came after a battle in the state over collective bargaining rights for state workers.

Walker and GOP allies in the Wisconsin state legislature voted in January 2011 to limit raises for public employees, except police and firefighters, to the rate of inflation. They also moved to bar unions from deducting dues from workers' paychecks.

That bill was signed into law in March, following protests at the Capitol.

Unions argued that collective bargaining - a process of negotiations meant to regulate working conditions - has served to protect their wages and health care, as well as enforce workplace safety and serve as a means to arbitrate employee grievances.

Walker, along with other supporters of the measure, asserted union contracts constrain efforts to address Wisconsin's swelling deficit.

On Thursday, Barrett characterized the reforms he made on collective bargaining rights as necessary and effective, saying the lack of discussion of the reforms in the recall election pointed to their success.

Asked what the meaning of the recall election was, Walker said he thought "it's ultimately about whether or not we want politicians to act on tough decisions."

"That's exactly what we did," Walker continued. "It's interesting that for all the talk of what the recall was initially, we don't hear a lot about that anymore. It's because our reforms are working."

Barrett disagreed, saying the cuts to bargaining rights were a measured bid to turn Wisconsin into a "right-to-work" state by putting major restrictions on labor unions.

Barrett, as he has before, classified Walker as a "rock star" for tea party interests that put his own political ambition ahead of his state's well-being.

"Scott Walker started this civil war," Barrett said. "He started this civil war, and quite honestly you know and I know that if you accepted, back in February 2011, the offer from employees to allow them to pay towards their health care and their pensions, we wouldn't be sitting here tonight."

Also see:

Obama campaign launches assault on Romney's Massachusetts record

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Gonzales says Romney must make personal connection to Hispanics

Wisconsin guv up in third straight poll

Filed under: Scott Walker • Tom Barrett • Wisconsin
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Sydnium S. Washington

    Oh, sure. Let the pigeons warble.

    June 1, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  2. enuff

    I feel sorry for the voters in Wisconsin.

    June 1, 2012 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  3. gate

    The citizens united supreme court decision is letting Walker pour unlimited millions into this race. He is buying the election. The supreme court killed democracy in this country. Now corporations can legally buy candidates and elections. We will be no better than a banana republic in a few years.

    June 1, 2012 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  4. JPNAmerican

    It's sad how the Unions agreed to give everything up and take the sacrifice in pay and even the dues deduction but wanted to keep their collective bargaining rights and are still losing this fight. I mean if they're going to make the sacrifice they should be able to negotiate rewards for it. Last I checked Governor Walker isn't make a shared sacrifice with his pay.

    June 1, 2012 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  5. Iamnotfooled

    Do not let Walker DIVIDE and CONQUER. People you better stop watching FOX News only and get a different perspective from another channel. Then you can see both sides of the story before you vote. It's that important. Police and firemen you might be next.

    June 1, 2012 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  6. J.V.Hodgson

    The US electorate has a choice to make. Do you (we) want a Wisconsin type governor in many states doing balanced budgets his way and the right wing GOP way or a more balanced approach between all sectors of the economy which may take a little longer to balance the books, but also works.
    But Dear mr walker you clearly in this debate do not listen to the people or effectively denigrate them by saying the recent campaigning has mentioned the initial issues... the people spoke and got the needed votes big time and is why a re-call exists... when you try to make it about " its about whether we want politicians to take tough decisions"
    No siree its about doing the will of the people and you must deal properly now with the reasons for the re-call, or methinks you could lose despite the polls.

    June 1, 2012 04:15 am at 4:15 am |
  7. Marie MD

    I don't aoprove of walker and his views because he is against the rights of those who make the least amount of money and are the ones who help us the most in case of an emergency.
    Another thing I find about him is that he looks like the sanatorium's long lost twin.

    June 1, 2012 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  8. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    This makes sense to me; Barrett notes the problems that Walker has. I can't see any good reason for Walker to have restricted collective bargining rights for state workers. Walker is just an ideologue that fails to see reason most days.

    June 1, 2012 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  9. the dogs of war

    This headline should instead read "Barrett whines about failed record being used against him... Sun rises in eastern sky"

    June 1, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  10. AlSonny

    Thank God, Walker is not my father!

    June 1, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  11. AlSonny

    Why is it illegal for people to bribe the players to manipulate in their favor while it is legal for people such as Koch and Hendricks to bribe Walker to manipulate policies in their favor?

    June 1, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  12. mike

    Barrett, unions and dems going down on Tuesday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Obama is next!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 1, 2012 10:21 am at 10:21 am |