The crux of Tom Barrett’s message against Scott Walker is simple: Walker needlessly imposed a sharply ideological agenda on Wisconsin that ignited a thermonuclear civil war within the state that has yet to abate. Wisconsinites who are exhausted by the political chaos Walker’s experiment unleashed should recall Walker and replace him with Barrett, who can reunite the state — the only way Wisconsin can move forward again.
New video of Walker has surfaced that could not be more perfectly tailored to Barrett’s message.
The footage, which was taken by a filmmaker who has donated to Barrett’s campaign, shows Walker vowing a “divide and conquer” strategy against unions in January of 2011 — just before he introduced the controversial reforms that unleashed the political turmoil that has persisted ever since. Making this even more politically potent, Walker made the comments in a conversation with a Wisconsin billionaire who subsequently gave Walker’s campaign half a million dollars, according to the Journal Sentinel.
Here’s the version of the footage that the Barrett campaign has posted:
The billionaire, Diane Hendricks, asks Walker if there’s any chance Wisconsin will become a “completely red state” and a “right to work” state. Walker replies:
“Well, we’re going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill. The first step is we’re going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer.”
The Journal Sentinel says it was given a chance to watch the raw footage to establish what was said after this exchange; a full transcript is here. Walker went on to discuss why he thought it was necessary in budgetary terms to roll back collective bargaining rights.
The exchange does not make it totally clear whether Walker agreed that “right to work” should be a goal for the state. But this is a huge gift for Dems: It is powerful ammo for their argument that Walker is the primary reason Wisconsin is so divided right now. The whole campaign message from Barrett — who was not labor’s choice to take on Walker — is premised on the idea that only by moving beyond Walker’s experiment can the state pull together and address its problems in a unified way.
It wouldn’t be surprprising if this footage is up on the air in heavy rotation by next week in ads juxtaposing Walker’s vow to “divide and conquer” with Barrett’s promise to reunite Wisconsin and move it forward again.