One candidate was in Texas, the other in California, but it was the state of Wisconsin that loomed large over US presidential campaigning on Wednesday, and, not surprisingly, Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama sparred over its significance.
Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker's victory in a recall vote was a cause celebre for conservatives and Romney attempted to turn it into support for his campaign to oust Obama in the Nov. 6 election, even though he had largely steered clear of the state in the midst of the struggle. The outcome played into Romney's case that “union bosses” have gotten too powerful and that they contribute so much money to Obama's campaign that he is reluctant to take them on. “It will echo throughout the country,” Romney told his supporters at a fund-raising lunch in San Antonio, Texas, that raised close to $3.5 million and was part of a two-day tour that netted $15 million. “Yesterday was won by the people of Wisconsin doing the right thing and voting for conservative principles.” Obama had for the most part avoided getting directly involved in the effort by Wisconsin unions and Democrats to toss Walker out of office in favor of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat. The recall effort was launched after Walker last year limited the powers of public sector unions. Unions typically support Democrats. The White House attempted to play down the importance of the Wisconsin results. “My observation is that what you had was an incumbent governor in a repeat election that he had won once,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One as it carried Obama to California.