Bill Clinton headed to Wisconsin to campaign against Scott Walker

posted at 6:44 pm on May 31, 2012 by Allahpundit

On the one hand, is there a single vote left across the entire state that’s still in play here? Wisconsinites have been gorging on recall politicking for literally years now. Barring a catastrophic gaffe by Walker or Barrett in the last few days before the vote, who’s still making up his/her mind on this election?

On the other hand, dude, I’m nervous:

Former President Bill Clinton has decided to go to Wisconsin to campaign against Scott Walker in the final days of the battle over whether to recall the Wisconsin Governor, a move that could give a boost to the anti-Walker forces in a campaign that will depend heavily on who turns out to vote, a source familiar with Clinton’s plans confirms to me…

Democrats badly want Clinton to campaign in Wisconsin for Tom Barrett, and had lobbied him heavily for weeks. But Clinton remaind undecided until today…

Labor and Dems are widely believed to have a superior ground game to that of Walker, though it’s still unclear whether it will be enough to compensate for Walker’s seeming lead in the polls. A Clinton visit, Dems hope, will galvanize base turnout (the black vote in Milwaukee, for example) just enough to put Barrett over the top.

Clinton’s a famously good campaigner and he and Hillary have always appealed to blue-collar Dems, so if there’s anyone out there who can squeeze a little extra turnout out of Barrett’s base, it’s him. That’s not really the part that worries me, though. What worries me is that he must be sufficiently convinced by Barrett’s internal polls showing that this is a winnable race that he’s willing to stake a little of his own political capital on it. In fact, maybe that’s part of the logic of this — if Clinton shows up with Barrett, it’s a strong signal to depressed Wisconsin Dems that this thing might still be winnable after all. Doesn’t even matter what he says. Just the fact that he’s there is the message.

Then again, if Barrett’s internal polls are so compelling, why are other top Democrats running away from Wisconsin?

President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Minneapolis, which sits along the border of Wisconsin, on Friday, but has no plans to visit the Badger State.

White House press secretary Jay Carney distanced the administration from Barrett’s campaign at Wednesday’s briefing…

During an MSNBC interview Wednesday morning, Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter tried to downplay the significance of the recall effort, saying it had “nothing to do” with the presidential election.

“This is a gubernatorial race with a guy who was recalled, and a, you know, a challenger trying to get him out of office,” Cutter said. “It has nothing to do with President Obama at the top of the ticket. And it certainly doesn’t have anything to do with Mitt Romney at the top of the Republican ticket. So, no, I don’t think, you know, there may be some that will, you know, predict that it means doom for us in Wisconsin in the fall elections, but I think they’ll be proven wrong.”

Actually, there’s good reason to think that the recall effort will help Republicans contend in Wisconsin in the fall. The RNC claims it’s made more than two million voter contacts in the state and has opened 20 field offices that will segue to organizing for Romney once they’re done organizing for Walker. Worst-case scenario: Obama holds on to win the state in November but ends up having to spend money there that he had earmarked for a swing state. Best-case scenario: Romney pulls the upset and the Walker recall effort ends up exploding like a 20-megaton bomb in the Dems’ faces. That might also be part of the logic in sending Clinton out there: Even if Walker ends up winning, the closer the Dems can make it on Tuesday, the more Romney will think twice about gambling on the state by spending his own money there. He’s got a heavy lift to start with — Obama beat McCain in the state by 14 points — so absent a very solid Walker victory, Mitt might conclude that it’s a lost cause even if he’ll probably significantly improve on Maverick’s results. Clinton’s task is to make sure the victory isn’t so solid, even if it happens.


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