SAN ANTONIO — Mitt Romney on Wednesday hailed Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s victory in Tuesday’s recall election as a sign that independent voters and even some
Democrats are embracing conservative austerity measures.
“People in what many have considered a blue state… said, ‘We’ve seen a conservative governor, he cut back on the scale of government and has held down taxes and stood up to the public-sector unions, and we want more of that, not less of it,’” the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said in an afternoon telephone question-and-answer session with thousands of business leaders on Wednesday afternoon.
Advisers to President Obama cautioned against reading too much into the results, but Romney said Walker’s win would “echo throughout the country.”
“We don’t win a lot in Wisconsin — the last time we won in Wisconsin was 1984, [and] it’s been blue voting for president ever since,” Romney said at a Wednesday fundraiser in San Antonio. “What happened yesterday was people looked at the Republican governor — a
conservative — and even though they may have been Democrat or independent, they looked at the record of a strong conservative who cut back on the size of government, who [helped] bring down taxes, who said we have to reform, in this case, public-sector unions that have asked for too much.”
Although labor unions worked aggressively on behalf of Walker’s Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Romney said it was rank-and-file union members who helped Walker survive a recall challenge midway into his term.
“The union members, they’ll support us,” Romney said. “Without the union members who support our campaign and support conservative principles, we wouldn’t have Scott Walker win in Wisconsin if that weren’t the case.”
Aboard Air Force One on Wednesday, while heading to California for the president’s two-day fundraising tour, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney pointed to exit polls that showed that a majority of Wisconsin voters favored Obama over Romney in a presidential matchup.
Carney said he didn’t have “much of a conversation” with Obama about the election but that his own view is that “what you had was an incumbent governor in a repeat election that he had won once, in which he outspent his challenger by a magnitude of 7 or 8 to 1, with an enormous amount of outside corporate money and huge donations, and you got essentially the same result.”
Carney noted that the Wisconsin electorate that turns out for the national elections in November is likely to be even more favorable to Obama than the one that voted on Tuesday.
“Even in the electorate that voted yesterday, which is substantially different from the electorate in Wisconsin that will vote in November, those voters yesterday said they believed that the president’s policies are the right policies to protect the middle class,’’ Carney said.
Gardner reported from California.