President Obama visits Wisconsin today, as part of his tour of recent public appearances to promote his economic plans. And none other than Governor Scott Walker, a national conservative star, is scheduled to meet Obama at the Milwaukee airport, and also attend the President’s remarks at the factory of a local company, Master Lock.
Obama name-dropped Master Lock in his State of the Union address in January, as an example of jobs coming back to America — and unionized jobs, at that.
We can’t bring every job back that’s left our shore. But right now, it’s getting more expensive to do business in places like China. Meanwhile, America is more productive. A few weeks ago, the CEO of Master Lock told me that it now makes business sense for him to bring jobs back home. (Applause.) Today, for the first time in 15 years, Master Lock’s unionized plant in Milwaukee is running at full capacity.
Meanwhile, Walker is the target of a recall election this year, after a signature campaign mounted by the state Democratic Party and organized labor, in a backlash against his anti-public employee union legislation and other parts of the state budget.
Second only to the presidential campaign, it will likely be the biggest and most expensive race in the country.
And just this past weekend, Walker delivered a headline speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington — and appealed to conservative activists there by specifically casting the recall as a national race, against liberal groups:
They understand that this recall election is about much more than who is the Governor of Wisconsin. In fact, it is even bigger than what it means for the elections in November of 2012.
This election is ultimately about courage. When we prevail, it will send a powerful message - not only in Madison but in Springfield and St. Paul; Columbus and Austin; and in state houses all across America. Most of all, it will send a message in the halls of Congress.
So will the political swords be laid down, at least for the duration of the presidential visit? Not on your life.
TPM asked state Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski for comment on Obama’s visit, and Walker’s scheduled attendance.
“Scott Walker has been busy bragging about how President Obama is ‘terrified’ of Walker’s illusory success in Wisconsin,” said Zielinski. “That’s nonsense. In fact, what Walker has done is unite progressives and Democrats behind not just Walker’s recall, but behind the President’s fight for the middle class.
“And, with all the time Walker has spent out-of-state shaking down sleazy corporate cash, we are frankly a little surprised to see has some time to spend in Wisconsin.”
Meanwhile, state Republican Party spokesman Ben Sparks was just as pugilistic, in an interview with TPM.
“Look, President Obama is visiting the state amidst plummeting approval ratings in crucial swing states,” said Sparks. “And so the Campaigner-in-Chief is simply taking his roadshow to Milwaukee tomorrow in a desperate attempt to push his extreme left-wing ethos of higher taxes, increased entitlements and deficit spending.
“With poll after poll showing that 60 to 70 percent of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction, President Obama is simply showing how out of touch with Wisconsin values he is. Wisconsin voters went to the polls in 2010 and resoundingly rejected the Democrats’ attempt to move our state backwards, and they have no interest in four more years of the same failed policies.”
Meanwhile, Sparks said, RNC chairman Reince Priebus — a Wisconsin native and former state GOP chair — will also be making the rounds for interviews with state media outlets.
And as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, Priebus and Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson already held a conference with reporters on Tuesday, slamming the upcoming visit:
Priebus, who previously chaired Wisconsin’s GOP, called the visit “yet another taxpayer paid funded campaign stop by the president, this time to our home in Wisconsin, to rehash really more of the same broken promises, more speeches …”
Johnson said, “With President Obama going to Milwaukee, visiting Master Lock, it does remind me like the rooster taking credit for the sunrise.”
Johnson added that the Obama Administration has a “basic hostility toward business and the free-market system” and criticized what he called the president’s “assault on success.”