Former President Bill Clinton urged Wisconsin Democrats to vote against Gov. Scott Walker in Tuesday's recall election, saying the Republican has governed without compromise or honest negotiation.
Clinton rallied hundreds of voters Friday in Milwaukee, a Democratic stronghold and home of Walker's challenger, Democratic Mayor Tom Barrett. The former president was the latest in a string of high-profile Democrats who have campaigned on Barrett's behalf in recent days.
Clinton told the crowd that the states recovering from the economic downturn are those in which members of both parties are working together.
"They are involved in creative cooperation, not constant conflict," he said, later adding, "Cooperation works. Constant conflict is a dead-bang loser."
Clinton's comments were a clear dig at Walker after the state divided last year over the governor's push to effectively end collective bargaining for most public workers. Walker and Republican leaders rammed his proposal through the state Legislature despite weeks of protests at the state Capitol and Senate Democrats fleeing to Illinois in an ultimately futile effort to block a vote.
That's no way to govern, Clinton said. Real leaders get stakeholders together, listen to their concerns, treat them with respect and make sure everyone moves forward together, he said.
The recall election was spurred by anger over the collective bargaining law. Local election clerks who track absentee voting through a statewide computer system had issued at least 182,000 absentee ballots by midday Friday, foreshadowing what is expected to be heavy turnout next week.
Walker campaigned Friday with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who has called herself a "union buster" and considers her state's low union membership rate an economic development tool.
At a printing plant in Sussex, about 20 miles west of Milwaukee, Haley told workers the Wisconsin race was being watched by governors nationwide and called on them to reward what she described as Walker's courage.
"If you have his back you will show governors like me that when we fight for you, you will have our backs," Haley said. "And that helps every governor."
Walker has been leading in recent polls released by the Marquette University Law School.