After all, wasn’t the Walker recall supposed to be the great liberal cause of 2012? When Walker pushed through collective-bargaining reform over the objections of Wisconsin Democrats, the Left warned that conservatives had gone too far. Wisconsin was a union state, they said, and in taking on the public-sector worker unions, Republicans had dug their own political grave. Moreover, Obama had promised to stand with the unions. During the 2008 campaign, Obama declared “[I]f American workers are being denied their right to organize when I’m in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes and I will walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States.”
But when the fight came, and the unions called, Obama failed to show up.
Not only did Obama not show up, his campaign is desperately trying to distance him from the Wisconsin recall effort. As Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter put it last week, “This is a gubernatorial race with a guy who was recalled and a challenger trying to get him out of office. It has nothing to do with President Obama at the top of the ticket.”
Sorry, Stephanie, it has everything to do with President Obama at the top of the ticket. It is precisely because Obama remains popular in Wisconsin that he has not come to campaign for Walker’s opponent. Walker is leading Barrett 52 to 45 percent — virtually the same margin by which Obama is leading Mitt Romney. That means there are a significant number of independents in Wisconsin who support both Scott Walker and Barack Obama. The president does not want to alienate those voters by getting into a fight with Walker. The last thing Obama wants is to force those Walker-Obama independents to choose.
But there is someone who would love to force them to choose: Mitt Romney. And that is precisely why Romney may put Scott Walker on the GOP ticket this November.
A victory tomorrow would make Walker the instant front-runner for the GOP vice presidential nod. Walker has a great story to tell. He took on the public-sector unions and did not back down in the face of protests, civil disobedience and the spectacle of Democratic state legislators fleeing across state lines to avoid casting their votes back home. By standing firm, he succeeded in implementing collective-bargaining and other common sense reforms that have saved Wisconsin taxpayers more than a billion dollars — turning a record $3.6 billion budget deficit into a $154 million surplus. And he did it while cutting property taxes and creating a business-friendly environment that has produced more than 35,000 new jobs since he took office. All this makes Walker the national poster child for taming out of control budgets.