Wisconsin Recall Election Becomes Nat'l Fight

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Voters in Wisconsin have already begun casting ballots in the recall race that some are calling the nation's second biggest election this year.

The rare recall is taking place because Republican Gov. Scott Walker angered powerful unions with his budget reforms. National money from both sides has been pouring into the race.

Clinton Stumps for Walker Rival

In the campaign's final days, Democrats sent bill Clinton - not President Obama - to mobilize the vote for Scott's rival, Democrat Tom Barrett.

Barrett and the former president cast Walker and his allies as right-wing extremists who are opposed to compromise.

"[Outsiders] look at Wisconsin, and they see America's battleground between people who want to work together to solve problems, and people who want to divide and conquer," Clinton said. "Cooperation versus conflict."

At the last debate before Tuesday’s vote, Walker and Barrett went at each other with the knowledge that people in all 50 states, red and blue, are watching.

"I've heard for years from Democrat, Republican voters alike that people complain that politicians get into office and they don't take on the tough issues. That's exactly what we did," Walker said. "In fact, it's interesting for all the talk about what the recall was about initially, we don't hear a lot about that anymore because our reforms are working."

Barrett targeted Walker by trying to tie him to outside interests.

"Scott's done a very good job of traveling around this country becoming the rock star of the far right and raising millions and millions of dollars, and these people have an agenda that's not a Wisconsin agenda," Barrett said.

With early voting underway, turnout is expected to pass 60 percent, and less than 2 percent of those surveyed say they're undecided.

"I want to make sure people get out there and vote," Barrett said. "They can vote early this week. It's important. We're expecting a large voter turnout and Scott Walker is going to have millions of dollars from outside the state. What I want to have is people in the state."

A coalition of union groups bitterly opposes Walker's pension reforms. Their efforts have resulted in recall attempts for state senators and a judge who supported Walker's budget cuts.

Most recalls have failed, but unions and their allies have spent millions of dollars and enlisted labor manpower to oust the governor.

Walker has his own national support from groups buying ads in Wisconsin.

The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama released an ad saying, "This is no time to throw away all the progress that's been made here in Wisconsin. We must reject the efforts by Barack Obama and his minions to interfere with Wisconsin's turnaround."

A Marquette Law School poll this week gives Walker a 52 percent to 45 percent lead in the race. He also won the endorsement of the state's largest newspaper, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

As he told CBN News Reporter David Brody, the bitterly fought contest has national implications. But the Baptist minister's son said he has higher priorities.

"All this is just a temporary thing and God's got a plan for us," Walker told Brody. "Who knows where it might be, beyond just serving as governor of this state."

"But if we stay true to that, there's always comfort," he said. "And God's grace is always abundant no matter what you do."

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John Waage

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John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN News since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. 

He also analyzes the convulsive politics of the Middle East.