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Bubba and Barrett

Former president stumps for Democrat in Wisconsin recall

• June 1, 2012 5:12 pm

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MILKWAUKEE – Former President Bill Clinton took time from his regular schedule of raising money for his foundation to stump for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s Democrat opponent in the state’s upcoming recall election.

Speaking to a small but lively crowd of Barrett supporters near the famous Usinger’s sausage house in downtown Milwaukee on Friday, the 42nd president told the audience to reject the "divide and conquer" policies of Walker.

"Ordinarily, I'm against recall election," Clinton said. "But sometimes it’s the only way to avoid a disastrous force."

That disastrous force, according to Clinton, is Walker, whose 2011 collective bargaining reforms closed a budget deficit of $1.8 billion. Wisconsin is now projecting a budget surplus of $275 million.

The theme of Clinton’s speech was the need for cooperation instead of conflict.

"Cooperation works," Clinton said. "Constant conflict is a dead-bang loser. And you need to get rid of it."

If Walker survives Tuesday’s recall election, Clinton said it will be a vindication of his so-called "divide and conquer" strategies.

"I can just hear it now Wednesday," Clinton said. "All these people who poured all that money into this contest … will say ‘See, we got 'em now. We're going to break every union in America, we're going to break every government in America, we're going to stop worrying about the middle class. We don't give a rip whether poor people get to work their way into it. We've got our way now. We've got it all. Divide and conquer works.’"

Clinton’s appearance in Milwaukee provided much-needed star-power to the Barrett campaign. As the Free Beacon previously reported, Barrett has struggled to attract high-profile Democrats to the Badger State.

President Obama is visiting Minneapolis today, less than 30 miles from the Wisconsin border, but he has no plans to set foot in Wisconsin.

Barrett has consistently polled between four and seven points behind Walker in independent polls over the past few months.

Two Barrett supporters, Jim Gramling and Mary E. Kelly, said they were not disheartened.

"It takes confident people to pull off an upset," Gramling said.

"That’s why this rally was so important," Kelly added.

One lone pro-Walker protester attended the rally, holding a sign that read: "Support Walker, not union thugs!" He also repeatedly shouted pro-Walker sentiments during the speeches. A group of Barrett volunteers surrounded him for the majority of the rally, holding up signs to block his message, as well as shielding him from the visibly angered crowd.

The protester was called an "asshole," an "idiot," and a "disgrace," and shoved twice by apoplectic Barrett supporters. Shortly after Clinton finished speaking, the protester, identified as David Willoughby by Buzzfeed, was arrested by police after refusing to leave the rally and becoming irate.

A spokesperson for the Milwaukee Police Department did not return a request for further information.

Barrett supporters applauded his arrest. One Barrett supporter chanted "go to jail" as he was led away.