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Scott Walker said budget strategy in Wisconsin was ‘divide and conquer’

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said early in 2011 that he was going to institute a “divide and conquer” strategy when it came to the state’s budgeting process, including stripping public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights, according to just-released documentary footage.

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“We’re going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill,” Walker said when a campaign donor asked him how he would turn the state red. “The first step is, we’re going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions [and] use divide and conquer.”

The footage was initially posted late Thursday by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The campaign of Walker’s opponent in next month’s recall election, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D), quickly posted the video to YouTube as well.

Democrats argued that the video betrays the fact that Walker’s motives were less about budget-cutting — as he has maintained — and more about a personal campaign to take down organized labor. Walker and the GOP state legislature’s methods for passing the bill were controversial — along with the legislation itself — and state legislative Democrats fled the state in an attempt to thwart the effort.

Walker’s office has declined to expound on what the governor meant. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Fix.

The comments came in an exchange with donor Diane Hendricks and were captured by documentary filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein.

The filmmaker has said he wasn’t out to expose Walker, but was merely trying to document the economic recovery in Janesville, Wis.

Expect to see this in a campaign ad near you (if you’re in Wisconsin).

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