EAU CLAIRE -- Negative campaign ads by Dem Mary Burke and her allies in the final days of the campaign won’t work, Gov. Scott Walker told a crowd of GOP loyalists during a Saturday afternoon rally in Eau Claire.
“They don’t want to vote against something, they want to vote for something,” Walker said of Wisconsin voters.
“The other side is counting on complacency,” Walker told a crowd of roughly 150 supporters gathered outside the Eau Claire GOP campaign office despite the November chill. “The other side is counting on their attack ads working.”
Walker took a populist tone in his remarks, saying Washington insiders want to unseat him because of Act 10 and other budget-cutting policies he’s enacted since taking office in 2011.
“You know why I’m the No. 1 target? Because I took the power away from the big government special interests,” he said. “They’re afraid more leaders might stand up and think more about the next generation than about the next election.”
Walker’s stump speech was part of a pre-election bus tour of northern and western Wisconsin Saturday, including stops in Hayward, Minocqua, Eau Claire and La Crosse. He noted that he had campaigned in Eau Claire just three days earlier as well, and chided Democrats for sending party leaders -- including, in recent days, President Obama and former President Clinton -- to Milwaukee to campaign on Burke’s behalf.
“You think they know where the Chippewa Valley is?” he said.
Walker encouraged the faithful to make a last-ditch push to convince undecided friends and neighbors to vote for him. He acknowledged that not everyone in the state -- and possibly some in the audience -- had agreed with all of the steps he’d taken to fix a $3.6 billion state budget deficit when he took office, polices that inspired the recall effort against him in 2012. However, Walker said, those policies helped balance the budget and improve the state’s job picture.
“I hope today you can see our motives were pure,” he added.
While Walker struck a more conciliatory tone, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus attacked Burke in his introductory remarks, saying she “lied on her resume” in the campaign.
“She can’t keep a job with her own family. Why should we give her the biggest job in Wisconsin?” Priebus said, alluding to reports from former executives of Trek Bicycles that Burke was fired from the family business in 1993 -- claims that Burke and her brother, John, the current CEO of Trek, deny.
Priebus said Walker, who’s been talked about as a possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate, has the stature to become a national leader in the GOP -- as long as Wisconsin voters send a message by re-electing him.
“It’s a message to the entire country that when you have a candidate who makes a promise, and keeps the promise, you reward them,” he said.
-- By Tom Giffey