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Organizers Say 'Celebrate Walker' Rally Far Exceeded Expectations

Despite freezing weather, thousands show up at Wauwatosa park to show their support for embattled Republican Gov. Scott Walker and listen to state's GOP elite.

An event that started out as an , then grew into a major Republican rally with an expected audience of perhaps 1,000, ended up drawing an estimated 3,000 people at its height.

Celebrate Walker, held Saturday afternoon in Wauwatosa's , featured a lineup of the state's most powerful Republicans — short of Walker himself, who was rumored to be weighing an unannounced, last-minute appearance.

He did not come, but his wife, First Lady Tonette Walker, and their son Alex did make a surprise visit. Tonette Walker spoke briefly on behalf of her husband and children, thanking the audience for their show of support.

First event of its kind for Walker

It was, in fact, the first public event organized by pro-Walker forces since he took office — and that made it an attractive venue for three of the most powerful Republicans in the state, who all happen to be vying for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Herb Kohl.

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Four-term governor and former Bush cabinet secretary Tommy Thompson spoke early and showed the Walker crowd he's still got it with a speech that started at a shouting level and kept climbing as he prowled the stage.

"We are red, they are blue, and when we get done they're gonna be black and blue!" he roared, and was met with a roar in return.

He stripped off his topcoat to reveal a bright red University of Wisconsin-Madison windbreaker underneath, announcing that the capital W on his back stood for both Wisconsin and Walker.

"We are Wisconsin! We are Republicans!" he crowed. "And we are taking our state back!"

An hour later, State Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald tried to match Thompson in fiery rhetoric.

"We weren't going to be afraid to take a political risk," he said, "and not be afraid to do the right thing. And we went out and we recruited 132 different candidates to run as Republicans for the state Assembly. We needed four seats to pick up a majority; we picked up 14!

"We ran on two principles: We were gonna get people back to work in Wisconsin – and we were finally going to solve this budget mess that has dogged us for years!"

Former Congressman Mark Neumann, the final speaker for the day and last of the Senate candidates, also worked up a theatrical performance by doffing his coat in the growing cold and pulling on a Walker T-shirt.

Neumann said that as a member of the private sector himself, he had to carefully consider whether to invest in Wisconsin — and he did, "Under our job-creating governor, Scott Walker.

"I can't think of a better story to tell you folks in terms of our great confidence in Scott Walker and what he's done for this state and what his team's doing," Neumann added.

Organizers said shortly after the rally began that 2,500 people had arrived for the event. Only 1,000 or so were expected, but fine weather and the desire to drown out the protesters who showed up also  showing up drove a large crowd.

"Shame! Shame! Shame!"

As the first speaker and representing the home district, state Sen. Leah Vukmir warmed up the crowd by challenging anti-Walker protesters who had gathered outside the event perimeter, saying "those people over there" deserved shame.

Immediately, a chant of "Shame! Shame! Shame!" went up from the pro-Walker crowd — the same chant huge crowds taunted Republicans with during mass protests last spring in the Capitol.

On positive notes in her speech, and when she introduced Tonette Walker, chants of "Walker! Walker! Walker!" also erupted. That would become a feature of nearly every speech of the day.

Jerrid Madden, the 16-year-old "Next Generation Conservative" from Muskego who was a featured speaker, got applause and a big laugh from the crowd.

"Winston Churchill once said," he began, "'If you're not a liberal at 20, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative at 40, you have no brain.'"

The crowd erupted, but he went on in a more serious vein.

"But what if you’re a young conservative today? I'd say that means you are a young person who uses his brain, and was raised with heart....

"For this, I thank my blue-collar, small business-owning single father, my aunt, my grandmother, and all of the other conservatives in my life who taught me the value of a dollar, a  strong work ethic, and certainly that I was entitled to nothing I haven’t earned."

Kathy Madden, Waukesha County's clerk of circuit courts, spoke from the perspective of a local elected official.

"I'm expected to manage a $9.4 million budget for the taxpayers, and the reforms in Act 10 allowed us to shave nearly a quarter of a million dollars off our expenditures," she said in an interview after her public speech.

"There are municipalities, county governments and school boards across this state that have benefited from Act 10."

One disruption during rally

The rally didn't get far without incident. It was Madden who was speaking when a pair of protesters who had managed to enter the event quietly suddenly unfurled a large anti-Walker banner right in front of the stage.

Security personnel rushed to remove them from the crowd.

That, however, would prove to be the only hiccup of the day. As the rally wound down toward the last couple of speakers, Meg Duffey, in charge of security for the event, said the last of about 100 protesters had left at about 3 p.m.

"There were probably only about 12 left for the last 45 minutes to an hour before that," she said.

"Everything went very smoothly. We had one snafu and they were escorted off the property. There were no other incidents — just the one," she said. "I've been in constant contact with the police and everything seems to be on the up and up."

About halfway through the rally, organizers said the crowd had grown to 3,000, nearly filling the arena.

Noelle Lorraine, media and public relations coordinator, said: "It's triple what we expected, with 3,000 and counting. It's remarkable the power of social media and online networking.

"Ever since the very first Patch article came out, it went viral, and I credit 75 percent of our attendance to that," she added.

"It doesn't make a difference if you call yourself conservative or you call yourself Republican, we are united here today for the same cause — standing with Scott Walker," Lorraine said.

"It's quite humbling and I'm very proud of all of my friends who helped put this together," she added.

The rally concluded about 10 minutes earlier than its scheduled 4 p.m. run with a final chant for Walker, as overcast skies during the last hour brought a deep chill to the crowd.

Santo Ingrilli, one of the organizers who first conceived of the rally, told Patch: "The event exceeded all my expectations for it. To see the number of people who stayed through this three-hour event in these frigid temperatures is a testament to the support that Gov. Walker indeed enjoys in Wisconsin."

Asked about the fact that it took a grass-roots group of local folks to put on the event, as opposed to a well-funded political organization, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch said:

"It almost means more coming from individuals who came together because they have like minds and like appreciation for fiscal common sense and security for the future.

"It almost means more that people made up their minds on their own," she added. "This is the type of political movement our Founding Fathers based this country on."

skinnyDUDE January 25, 2012 at 06:45 PM
If you say so ...but I like the trend . :)
Kenosha Kate January 25, 2012 at 07:07 PM
So, let's see, Bewildered Barbie, if there's anything else I should add. Oh, yeah, one more thing. Let me quote you first, just so your stupidity is on full display: "Malibu Ken 'articulate'? What planet are you living on? Looks as if your big Recall banner in your front yard is blocking the facts on this one." Classic Bewildered Barbie! If Zuma Bound is nothing else, he's definitely articulate. But, he's also a whole lot more than that, and the truth is that you know it. It's just that your macho little schoolboy ego won't let you admit it. I guess that, since you didn't disagree at the same time with my assessment that Zuma is "smarter than you", you're just conceding that particular point, huh? Bewildered Barbie, it's time to STOP while you're behind. Thanks for playing, but "recess" is over. The adults have things to do now. Off ya go, sport.
morninmist January 25, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Spot on! scottwalkerwtch scottwalkerwatch Walker saying he "balanced" the budget is like saying Fox News is fair and "balanced". bit.ly/Aj9DBF #wiunion #wirecall 30 minutes ago See this from Rep Richards also: http://thewheelerreport.com/releases/January12/0118/0118richards.pdf
Kenosha Kate January 25, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Bewildered - "Issue with Zuma is I find hiim, with his 1% status that he so likes to brag about, pretending to speak for us 99% total bull. I take it you supprt his telling Wisconsin what to think from his beach house in Malibu. Just be careful his wallet doesn't crush you, as he likes to say." You obviously don't even read his posts. Zuma Bound has opinions, well thought-out and well-articulated ones, but he has not told us what to think. Nor has he said that he was part of the 1%. In fact, he has said that he isn't part of the uber-rich, not that you bothered to read the comment in which he said so. He came from the middle-class, has Midwestern roots just like you and I do, and was raised to believe that no one is any better than anyone else, no matter how much money they have. If you'd actually taken time to read what he has said here, you would know that. You would also know that Zuma Bound said the following, purely as a rhetorical device, in meeting "fire with fire" in response to Brian Dey's false assumptions about him and Dey's misplaced condescension (1/21-10:20 am). He wasn't bragging as you've wrongly tried to suggest: "Bravo, [Brian Dey], bravo, you blowhard. You don't have a clue about me. I'm a successful small businessman, a music industry lawyer whose wallet, alone, would probably crush you." He was justifiably trying to slap Brian Dey's unjustified arrogance right off of Dey's smarmy, partisan face, while reaffirming his middle class values.
Kenosha Kate January 25, 2012 at 08:06 PM
All right, Bewildered, apparently there's no redeeming you. You are what you are. I guess Ron White is right, "Ya can't fix stupid". Good luck with everything, Barbie. You're really going to need it. We're done here.
morninmist January 25, 2012 at 08:20 PM
I hope you post again. We do have some lefties here:-)
Bewildered January 25, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Kate, my dear. In above post you state re: Zubby... " nor has he said that he was part of the 1%." Gee, that must be news to him cause at 11:30am yesterday he said : "For the record, I'm no longer part of the 99%". Opps ....intentional or reading comprehenson problem as you like to say? Hmmmm. by the way, if he claims to be a member of the 1% but not über rich, I wonder what his cutoff to be rich is? He obviously disagrees with our president who wants us to believe " rich" starts at $250k, individual or small business.
Patriot January 25, 2012 at 09:49 PM
@Kenosha-The usual name calling and degrading just because we dont follow your ideoligys!! More Government, more controll, more regulations, thats the answer. Gov Walker is the voice of the Silent Majority and our voice will be heard once again
Patriot January 25, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Because you believe everything you read or hear from your George Soro's liberal based media outlets. Just as I am sure you jumping up and down over Obamas speech?
James R Hoffa January 25, 2012 at 10:16 PM
@Kenosha Kate - You're actually defending as 'articulate,' a guy who makes his point by saying things such as "[t]ry to understand it, if you can, or just continue to stick your head up your ass." WOW! Very interesting and telling of your level of aptitude and appreciation for 'intelligent' discussion of partisan issues, wouldn't you say? You may want to try again.
Bewildered January 25, 2012 at 10:49 PM
So Kate, from your above repost of Zuma's orig post: Zuma: "I'm a .....music industry lawyer whose wallet, alone, would probably crush you" See here's our fundamental diff. I consider his words to be bragging and fail to understand how such a statement could be taken any differently.
Patriot January 25, 2012 at 11:27 PM
So with all the test run elections that have been done, they show Gov Walker winning every single one by a nice cushion. These were random tests done by making random calls asking who would you vote for........... Falk or Walker?ou Many responses were Falk are you kidding Walker of course. What will you progressives do when Gov Walker wins this recall election? Just wondering what will be your next move to push your or try and push your liberal ideas onto the people of this great State?
morninmist January 26, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Patriot Use your imagination as what our next move would be. You can always make something up as pass it on as the truth as is you usual state of being.
morninmist January 26, 2012 at 12:39 AM
I will be there is spirit Solidarity to you brothers and sisters. MtiMadison Madison Teachers Inc Spontaneous @SolidaritySing right now! #WIrecall pic.twitter.com/7yohur9s 2 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply https://twitter.com/#!/MtiMadison/status/162332544447152128/photo/1
morninmist January 26, 2012 at 12:41 AM
rightnowio_feed Right Now I/O Feed People starting to gather for Walkers SOS protest #wiunion rightnow.io/breaking-news/… #Wiunion via @stephlindholm 19 minutes ago Favorite
mr smith January 26, 2012 at 12:41 AM
I have a ? for all you lefties out there. What will be your grounds for the recall be when you start running your ads? How dare Scott Walker not sign a check to the unions. For dues taken from many peoples pay when they were forced to be in the union. But didnt want to be in the union to start with .Or hows this he made us pay 5% to our pensions that they will get back anyway when they retire.Or he made us pay 12%of our health care .Have you no common sense. It just boggles the mind what a joke.
morninmist January 26, 2012 at 12:43 AM
oceanshaman GRAY @ GO FOR IT! RT @InformStation Over 100 singing "we shall overcome" in the capitol. MLK door open. join us! #Wimine #wiriseup #wiunion 2 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply
Patriot January 26, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Again I guess time will tell. When all you standing on the left are left with your jaws dropped, tongue hanging out asking what the **ll just happened.
morninmist January 26, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Boggle you mind bluecheddar1 bluecheddar1 Can't see what they did to Mic Checkers but they're silent. Likely were pummelled by state troopers #WIrising #WIunion #WIrecall 1 minute ago bluecheddar1 bluecheddar1 bluecheddar1 MIC CHECK!!! #wiRECALL #WIuprising #WIunion #WI #P2 #Recall#Walker 2 minutes ago bluecheddar1 bluecheddar1 bluecheddar1 MT @djambrek WPT says protest drums heard from rotunda for the #WI State of the State. #WISOTS #WIuprising #WIunion #WIrecall 3 minutes ago Anthony Cao anthcao Anthony Cao Scott Walker was just booed entering for the State of the State address. #WIRecall 4 minutes ago
skinnyDUDE January 26, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Lefties making fools of themselves at the state of state speech ..........they only allowed invited guest in the chamber. 4 of these guest started yelling at certain periods and were removed. Walker was unphased and continued to lay out the way forward . Unlike Obama he gladly talked about his reforms and the amazing successes he has achieved. The interuptions will help Walker with the Independants on the fence. They will be turned off by this type of Ignorance and disrespect. What next? Act like Zombies and make fun of special Olympic kids? Wait they already did that too.
Say What? January 26, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Governor walker is the shamwow of governors.
Bewildered January 26, 2012 at 02:14 AM
Wow! Dane County judge rules in favor of the right re: extending time to verify recall signers who woulda thunk it ?!?
Gregory Kluck January 26, 2012 at 04:47 AM
Wouldn't you want them to have all the time in the world to verify that the signatures are legal?
Craig January 26, 2012 at 05:23 AM
Kenosha Kate and Zuma have identicle writing styles and vocabulary. (not at all like an attorney by the way) Hmmm is someone bipolar?
morninmist January 26, 2012 at 09:34 AM
@Gregory K Time-frames are necessary to follow--for all parties involved.
Jeff Christensen February 01, 2012 at 02:39 AM
Keith, I notice that you post the same exact thing on multiple stories. Are you afraid of original thought? Here is the other story you posted the exact same thing: http://wauwatosa.patch.com/articles/walker-backers-say-they-re-ready-for-recall-fight How about adding to the discussion, not just adding to the endless talking points?
Larry Carter Center February 02, 2012 at 06:02 PM
CHEATING WORKERS while making the rich richer like the Kock Bros is cause to recall Walker... why Badgerland voters voted against their own best interests to elect a corrupt elitists still baffles me, probably church people who pay no taxes greedy to get richer at workers who do pay taxes expense, people jealous of a decent salary a gov't union worker recieves... they will tell lies about a union agent making a living while ignoring the million dollar lobbyists & billionaire Kock Bros
Steve February 02, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Do you guys keep "koch brothers" on a hot key? I'm confused: You guys want more tax revenue for your big government but you hate a successful company that makes lots of money, employes lots of people and both pay lots of taxes.
Patriot February 02, 2012 at 09:37 PM
How about that? An armed citizen makes a difference and stopped a possible massacre by a couple of shotgun toting thugs who had intent to do harm!! We can all Thank Gov walker and his admin.
Patriot February 03, 2012 at 02:06 AM
@Larry-So those of us who work in the private sector making a decent wage that are forced to pay higher medical premiums every month for health care, contribute to our own 401K programs, pay our ever increasing property taxes year after year should not have a voice? Why should we take the public sector union worker on our backs just to ensure he/she has free health care, better than awesome retirement, and no accountability for performance? Were supposed to just sit back and take while the majority of us middle class cheese heads are paying more, making cutbacks and taking responsibility. That is why we the majority voted for a Gov as Mr Walker!! He is doing a great job and making a difference.

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