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Wisconsin Seen as the Linchpin in 2012 Politics – And Beyond

Congressman Paul Ryan says this year's outcomes in Wisconsin will affect a whole generation. And national pundit Michelle Malkin says a Walker recall loss would be "the most damaging thing" in American politics

Wisconsin is "ground zero." Wisconsin is "pivotal." Wisconsin is "critical." Wisconsin is where "the battle will be won."

Or lost.

Speaker after speaker at the "Defending the American Dream Summit" Saturday in Milwaukee reiterated that this is the battleground for conservatives.

It's expected that presidential hopefuls will tell the party faithful that their state's votes are the most important, wherever they might be.

But the only such presidential hopeful on the docket Saturday at the Wyndham Hotel was former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum. Yet, speaker after speaker on the docket — be they sitting members of Congress or pundits or organizers at the national, state or local levels — said the same:

All eyes are on Wisconsin.

Here is where they make their stand

The Wisconsin Republican primary, just 10 days away on April 3, could set the Republican ticket. A win by Santorum could keep him in the race. A win by Mitt Romney, the frontrunner now, could seal the deal for him.

In the national election come November, Wisconsin, always a swing state, could make or break either party.

But a strong undercurrent during the day at "the summit," sponsored by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, was concern about the Wisconsin recall elections.

Most of all, the outcome of the recall elections here, especially the one challenging Gov. Scott Walker, could be a bellwether of national politics and in every state.

Moreover, contended Michelle Malkin, nationally known blogger and regular FOX News contributor, a Walker loss could change the very face of democracy, making every governor and elected official vulnerable to the whims of a disgruntled minority.

Malkin said such a loss would be "the most damaging thing" that could happen in all of American politics.

Going to the grassroots – perhaps for life support

The summit itself was billed as an educational conference put on by the AFP's Foundation arm, offering training in grassroots activism, particularly through social networking.

It was organized in 18 days and drew nearly 1,000 registered participants without any significant notice in the mainstream media, said state director Luke Hilgemann.

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In interviews, Hilgemann, echoed by Malkin and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, said the Republican Party was catching up and in some ways surpassing the Democrats in organizing followers through social media and grassroots organizing, long the domain of the left.

The presence of Santorum on the speaker's list may have been an indication of his need to run strong in Wisconsin and to tap that grassroots support.

"All the candidates were invited," Hilgemann said. "We even invited President Obama to explain his economic vision."

That Romney, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul did not come is perhaps indicative of their various positions in the race.

Romney is not just the frontrunner, he has recently been dubbed the presumptive nominee by elder statesmen in the GOP such as John McCain and Bob Dole.

that has turned a majority of Wisconsin voters toward Romney as the party's best hope. Gingrich and Paul are hardly registering life signs here or on the national vital signs monitor.

Santorum took the stage Saturday and spent about two minutes attacking President Obama's policies before turning his attention entirely to attacking Romney.

And the next next GOP nominee is...

Even though he shocked his own party earlier this week in Louisiana by comparing a vote for Romney to one for Obama, Santorum continued in that vein Saturday in Milwaukee, saying that no one could tell Romney's policies from Obama's on important issues from health care to energy.

Santorum got a warm enough welcome from the crowd, as did U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson earlier.

But the wild enthusiasm was saved for the guy who says he is "really into numbers" — U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the final speaker of the day.

Santorum might possibly be a nominee for next president of the United States, despite great odds.

Ryan, it would seem, might very likely be a nominee for next president after that, if he wants to be.

"The battle … is coming to a main crescendo this year," Ryan told the enthusiastic crowd. "Because of math and momentum, the change will last for a generation.

"The debt crisis is coming and we see it coming. All these smart economists tell us that we’ve got about two years."

Obama's "fourth budget proposes to do nothing about this debt crisis," Ryan said. "No, I take that back. He’s going to make it worse.

"The good news: It is not too late to turn this around. We can do this. We an grow our economy by letting people keep more of what they earn.

"We need to be talked to like adults and not pampered like children. We need to deserve victory.

"We will save the American idea."

Geoff Tolley March 26, 2012 at 03:28 AM
Bob, So the people who originally thought about recalling Walker this time last year had a shorter list of reasons, one only as long as their arms. So what? Why does that excuse Walker's actions since somehow? Why does that mean that his disrespect for the Constitution up until that time doesn't count? Your reasoning eludes me. In case you didn't notice, we did try to recall Grothman here in the 20th. As for the 8 GOP Senators who weren't targeted by DPW-backed efforts this winter, ask the inhabitants of their districts. Ask Lori Compas in particular (hint: she lives in SD-13). You just can't admit that your claim "If this was really about the supposed offenses of Scott Walker and his administration, we wouldn't have recalls targeting other Republicans who are believed to be vulnerable as well." simply makes no sense at all, can you? Then you complain that not spending limited resources on the potential recall drives least likely to succeed somehow leads you to the conclusion that Walker and GOP legislators must be pure as the driven snow and the efforts to kick them out didn't involve people from all walks of life with different reasons. Good luck with that; I'm sure your astounding reasoning powers will lead you to the truth every time.
Bob McBride March 26, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Geoff, you haven't answered the question. Why, if this is about what's right and getting all the bad guys out of office, are the only ones being targeted those assumed to be vulnerable? You suggest I go ask people in the districts where there are no recalls happening. You seem to be able to speak to every other concern here, why are you shifting responsibility for justifying your claims about what this is about onto those districts now? Using your argument, those legislators are equally as culpable as are the ones your side is targeting. The only logical conclusion anyone can come to is that it's not politically advantageous to do so. Otherwise, you and the rest of the pure-as-the-driven snow lefties would be aggressively attempting to run them out of office as well. If your arguments have holes in them, it's somehow my faulty logic and I'm supposed to chase down the answers from the districts myself. In that regard, you certainly follow the established pattern of our State's Democrats. If they don't get their way, it's somebody else's fault.
Geoff Tolley March 26, 2012 at 04:49 AM
Bob, Er... I directly answered that question. I'm not sure how you missed it. The fact is, Walker is unfit for office due to his illegal actions (and lack of action), his breaking of his oath of office, his lies in order to be elected to begin with. *I have supported those claims with references*. Your claim that the recall is solely a matter of political sour grapes are thus patently false. The entire GOP contingent in the Senate is demonstrably unfit for public office for similar reasons. That others have different motivations for recalling them is irrelevant. That resources are concentrated where they can be most effective is irrelevant. That there is no Constitutional requirement for a specific reason to recall is irrelevant. That recall efforts for previous governors have been unable to gather enough support for an election is irrelevant. No amount of strawmen or other logical fallacies change that. It boils down to: do you want someone who's demonstrably a lying lawbreaking oathbreaker to be in office a minute longer than necessary? If so, vote for Walker on June 5th.
Bob McBride March 26, 2012 at 12:41 PM
If you consider that your "answer" as regards why no recall efforts have been launched against all of the Republican contingent, then essentially you're acknowledging that it's a matter of political expediency, rather than an adherence to the pursuit of justice on the part of Democrats. You've essentially thrown everything you can think of at the wall, most of which can be found to have occurred under previous administrations. In the case of the "crimes" you claim, you've haven't indicated any situations where actual charges have been filed. It's through this process of continually throwing anything and everything at the wall that you folks attempt to justify this recall that is, essentially, based on the fact that you don't agree with the way he handled the collective bargaining situation, the initial and ultimate reason for the recall. What you want, in essence, is the ability to apply a mulligan like you're doing here, every time you lose an election. That's why you refuse to admit it needs to be changed. It's the same reason you don't want stricter Voter ID laws. Without loopholes and with legitimate laws designed to protect the election process, you have to play by the rules and accept outcomes for what they are. I'll will be voting for Walker, and to be honest I don't like everything he's done. But I'll be damned if I'll sit by and let one side pull out all the stops to undo 2010 just because they lost and our loose recall provision says they can.
Dirk Gutzmiller March 26, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Keith - Has anyone come up with a single lump sum payout analysis for SS? Those decadent old private pension systems allow it. If you buy whole life insurance, there is a cash value you can cash out. I would like to see a fair provision like that, for those like Keith who detest the system. SS is not just a rather poor payback investment plan, of course, it is insurance. Not just for you, but society. What about Mom, who did not have much of a job through her active life, but continues to draw an SS income into her very old age, and can live independently, and not with you? What about the guy down the street with two kids , few or no relatives that can help him, and with MS ,on SSI? Maybe charity or neighbors to help? We would need to do something about reducing their benefits if everyone starts cashing out. But what about you Keith? Are you scam proof, never have bad luck, someone that can make good investments and devoid of bad factors like chronic gambling, alcohol abuse, getting in debt, etc., senility, bad physical health, etc. etc. ? If you cash out, what is your safety net if things go really wrong? Will you want to come aknockin at some bottom government safety net? .Should we let you live under that bridge, or would you like that monthly check?
Geoff Tolley March 26, 2012 at 05:32 PM
You're assuming that people who have been paying attention are Democrats, and I'm "admitting" no such thing. Why would I not point out lies and lawbreaking and Constitution-trashing? Nothing in what you've said addresses any of that *at all*. The only excuse provided is your "everyone does it anyway". That's pitiful reasoning: if that's your standard for elected officials, if Wisconsin must always simply suffer it when elected officials assume powers not granted them by the people, we are in a sorry state indeed. Recall every time someone I don't care for wins an election? That perfectly explains why we've had no gubernatorial recall elections in the past. Your underlying premise is that recalling an official is easy. Clearly you have never tried, and history shows that it is done only rarely. You seem to be simply sore that Walker's attitude to the state has been so extreme that the process has gotten that far for a Wisconsin governor this time.
Geoff Tolley March 26, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Now you're trying to move the subject away from Walker and onto Voter ID: again, creating a new class of people without the right to vote is prima facie against Article III of the Constitution, exactly as Judge Niess said. It's not surprising that the GOP legislature passed and Walker signed an unconstitutional piece of legislation seeing and they've shown no signs of ever having read it. ALEC cookie-cutter legislation just doesn't fit all state constitutions. n.b. Since you're concerned about state resources, having the issuance of free photo ID's is still in effect, so failure to repeal that part is costing taxpayers $2.7 million/yr according to the fiscal estimates for the bill.
Bob McBride March 26, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Geoff, I've been watching this whole circus pretty much since inception. Recall talk started shortly after Walker was sworn in, it grew during the union driven protests early last year and has been a focus of the left since. I know what the issues are. Your Monday morning quarterbacking aside, this thing has been political since day 1. Again: crimes? - show me some charges. Lies? - Show me a candidate who keeps all his promises, post election. Constitutional violations? - Are you a scholar of constitutional law? If not, you're taking one side of an argument and regurgitating it as fact. Once again, the intent of the recall provision was not that it be used for political retaliation or as a mulligan for sore losers - and that's precisely how it's being used currently. That provision needs to change, since you folks refuse to use it responsibly. If the law changes, it's unavailable to everyone, not just Democrats. I can live with that, because I know that nobody gets elected for life and nothing that either side can do while in power can't be undone if necessary. You can't. The same goes for Voter ID. It effects Republicans just as it does Democrats. I can live with that, you can't. What other conclusion can logically be drawn other than that you can't cope with a system that doesn't give you an out if you lose, or one that gives you the ability to abuse the election process? Shady dealings are okay as long as you benefit.
Geoff Tolley March 27, 2012 at 01:33 AM
Bob, you persist with presenting logical fallacies. Now Walker must be pure as the driven snow since... someone was making recall noises as soon as he was elected? The fact is that the only time I used the term "criminal" was in connection with the fact that Governor Walker must be under criminal investigation, or else he could not have set up a legal defense fund under §11.64(1) of the Wisconsin statutues (https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/11/64/1), which he did on March 9th (http://wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=263794). The term I used was lawbreaker. I have already pointed you to https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/16/III/50/7 which requires Walker to submit a budget repair bill since we are otherwise headed for a significant deficit (see http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lfb/publications/Revenue-Estimates/Documents/2012_02_09_Darling_Vos_Revenue%20estimates.pdf). Walker is breaking the law, presumably in order to avoid drawing attention to the fact that his budget isn't balancing.
Geoff Tolley March 27, 2012 at 01:33 AM
As your comment reflects, we have come to expect little of candidates' campaign promises. However, usually these are in the form of lofty economic goals or seeing some signature legislation pass that they want to see, things which are not in the full control of the office they seek. Sometimes such broken promises are in the form of policies or expectations that must be changed as a response to changing circumstances. These can at least be understood if not condoned. In the example I gave, however, it was a complete reversal from his pre-election position 3 months earlier, without change of circumstance, and it was wholly within his power since he directed the legislature to consider it in the course of the special session he had used his power as Governor to call. It was therefore clearly something that he intended to do from the get-go and told voters the exact opposite in order to gain their vote. Constitutional violations: it's not just me, see Judge Niess' reasoning at http://wispolitics.com/1006/League_of_Women_Voters_v__Walker_SJ_decision.pdf of how Article III was tossed out of the window by the GOP legislature passing and Walker signing Act 23; see Judge John Albert's regarding the public being allowed into the Capitol at http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/news/117377043.html and the subsequent locking out of the public *and lawmakers* from the Capitol at http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_1bde688e-4b23-11e0-a0e3-001cc4c03286.html
Geoff Tolley March 27, 2012 at 01:34 AM
You keep on claiming that the recall of Walker is all about having a do-over and is just party politicking, yet you have no answer at all to any of the above except to call it "crap" or "regurgitation" or "Monday morning quarterbacking". As for the intent of the recall provision, firstly what's expressed in the amendment that voters approved for inclusion in the Constitution in 1926 is that one does not need to pick from a predefined shortlist of reasons. Secondly it's informative to pay attention to Bob La Follette's words on the matter since he was a major driver for it: "The recall enables the people to dismiss from public service those representatives who dishonor their commissions by betraying the public interest." I've demonstrated Walker's contempt for voters, the law, the Constitution, and the judiciary. If that's not betraying the public interest, what is?
Randy1949 March 27, 2012 at 02:07 AM
@Geof Tolley -- I favor lifting the cap, because, as was said back when they were considering allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire, $100K just isn't what it used to be. I'm sure many politicians would very much like to be able to keep that borrowed money from the Social Security Trust Fund. But that means that our government considers today and tomorrows retirees to be the one class of creditor they can default on. That astounds me.
Bob McBride March 27, 2012 at 02:54 AM
Geoff, you can keep beating the same old dead horses (challenging Voter ID, issues regarding the massive temper tantrum at the rotunda, etc) but it doesn't change the fact that this recall is indeed nothing more than a political ploy by the Democrats and their sugar daddies, the public employees unions, to regain power and their stranglehold on public finances, respectively. That's all this is about, period. I've been watching this since Day 1, as I said before, and I'm not buying it, period. I never said Scott Walker and the Republicans are pure as the driven snow. They aren't, neither were the Democrats who preceded them. That's not the standard. It may be your standard as you attempt to justify this nonsense, but it's not the standard and it never has been. This is not an emergency. The violations you cite frankly are no different than court challenges issued on legislation in the past that has effectively halted the implementation of said legislation. In essence, what you're talking about has never risen to the level of a recall in the past (because, again, it isn't necessary) and there's no reason it should now. Again, nothing more than politics and if you honestly believe otherwise, you're not thinking rationally.
Geoff Tolley March 27, 2012 at 04:04 AM
Bob, so violating the Constitution in order to deny the public access to their government - and furthermore violating a judicial restraining order - doesn't count because of what you happen to consider a "massive temper tantrum"? The Constitution isn't pick-only-the-bits-you-like-right-now. Either you care about its integrity or you don't. You and Walker have made your position on that very clear. You claim certain reasons for this recall as fact, yet you have provided no evidence at all for that position, and I've provided a mountain. You've made your position on what constitutes a "fact" and what is "rational" very clear. You claim you never said that Walker was pure as the driven snow, and yet you wrote "Recall talk started shortly after Walker was sworn in, it grew during the union driven protests early last year and has been a focus of the left since.", drawing the conclusion that since someone once made some recall noises which could well be construed as a "political ploy", any subsequent recall effort - regardless of Walker's actions - was necessarily a "political ploy", i.e. Walker could not possibly do anything deserving of recall, i.e. was pure as the driven snow.
Bob McBride March 27, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Geoff, given the insanity that was going on at the time, (as instigated by the state's public unions), I'm really not all that concerned that some folks might have been blocked from entry into the Rotunda for a few days. As far as I'm concerned when people behave like animals, they get treated as such. Walker also had an obligation to keep the insanity going on outside from spilling inside into an enclosed environment where such actions could be dangerous to others and those taking part in the actions as well. We're not talking about an average day at the Capitol. Nobody has been excluded from the Capitol on a long term basis. If you want to hang your recall on this or your other "reasons", have at it. You're never going to convince me that this whole episode is anything more than crying over spilt milk. As I said, I've been watching this for well over a year now, I've seen reason after reason touted as THE reason for the recall, and then subsequently denied as being the reason...rinse...repeat. if you combine all of them it comes down to people not wanting him in office because their personal ox has been gored and they don't think they should have to accept that. We're having your recall, we'll see what the results of the election are. Either way, afterwards, the provision needs to change so that this state never has to be put through this again at the behest of a bunch of petulant children who can't accept not getting their way.
Keith Schmitz March 27, 2012 at 11:46 AM
"Keith, Randy and or any of the rest of the self-righteous victims who've glommed onto this movement because they anticipate a personal pay-off if it's successful..." What payoff? You do have any idea what you are talking about Bob?
Bob McBride March 27, 2012 at 11:56 AM
I'm gonna pick this one apart specifically, because it goes to why this has dragged on and on and on here.... ******************************** You claim you never said that Walker was pure as the driven snow, and yet you wrote "Recall talk started shortly after Walker was sworn in, it grew during the union driven protests early last year and has been a focus of the left since.", drawing the conclusion that since someone once made some recall noises which could well be construed as a "political ploy", any subsequent recall effort - regardless of Walker's actions - was necessarily a "political ploy", i.e. Walker could not possibly do anything deserving of recall, i.e. was pure as the driven snow. **************************** There are no standards for recall, other than collecting a certain number of signatures. That's the bar. Recall has been on the table since shortly after he assumed the office, that is a fact. I can't claim for a fact Walker did nothing deserving of recall, simply because the provision states that he doesn't have to do anything deserving of recall to be recalled. Only that x number of signatures need to be obtained. Likewise, you can't claim for a fact that he's being recalled for a specific reason or set of reasons, or that he deserves being recalled for a specific reason or set of reasons, because there are no such standards in place. We are left to argue opinions. Do you now understand? If not, you're hopeless.
Bob McBride March 27, 2012 at 11:59 AM
Keith, are you going to claim you're not trying to parlay this into some sort of position of political influence on a farm team level for yourself? If so, that's laughable.
Bob McBride March 27, 2012 at 01:16 PM
And, Geoff, just so we're clear here, the same applies regarding the Republican attempts to recall the border-jumping Democrats who, it could be argued, abandoned their positions and deserved to be recalled for that under our loosey-goosey system of no standard except a certain number of signatures. Which I disagree with to the same degree as I do with the Walker recall and those launched against Republican legislators.
Jack Charles March 27, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Michelle Malkin is a drooling, hyperventilating ninny.
Mr. Kell March 27, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Liberal males are more attracted to good looking journalists like Helen Thomas, that is the best they can do.
Keith Best March 27, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Jack Charles with this comment is a prime example of the real "War on Women". Add, Sarah Palin, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Laura Ingraham, Rep. Michelle Malkin and a multitude of other conservative women that undergo personal attacks like this all the time.
Bren March 27, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Guys, come on. Don't go there.
Keith Best March 27, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Dirk Gutzmiller---Do you really believe Obama is a moderate? Obviously you know virtually nothing about him. Look up his relationship with Weather Underground domestic terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. His grandfathers friend who became a mentor to Barack in Hawaii was an admitted Communist. Geez it sounds like you bought into the mainstream media portrayal.
Lyle Ruble March 27, 2012 at 04:28 PM
@Keith Best....Are you calling Obama a communist, socialist or what? If that is the case, then, I think your partisanship is getting in the way of the facts and you need to cut the innuendo out of your rhetoric.
Bren March 27, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Richard, I appreciate your staunch defense of the elderly, but a re-read of the comments might reveal the sarcasm with which they are written. Many are concerned about discussions of cutting senior care programs, for the elders we know and for coming generations.
Randy1949 March 27, 2012 at 04:50 PM
It needs to be pointed out that Social Security and Medicare are huge gifts to younger families, because they lift the financial burden of caring for Grandma and Grandpa and allow those families to save for their own retirement. Plus maybe have a little left for Grams and Gramps to leave to them.
Bren March 27, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Keith Best, are you insinuating that Barack Obama is guilty simply by association? I don't consider George W. Bush to be a Nazi sympathizer because his grandfather Prescott laundered concentration camp profits for the Nazis prior to and at the beginning of World War II. Nor do I hold against David and Charles Koch the fact that their father Fred made a fortune working for/in the Soviet Union (a "communist" country) in the late 1920s and early 1930s. I believe it is possible to be acquainted with many people, each with their own ideologies and belief systems, without becoming that way oneself.
Dirk Gutzmiller March 28, 2012 at 01:09 AM
@Keith Best - Well, I imagine you, having read your bleatings, standing over on the right-wing edge, about as far right as you can get without falling off, where the reactionaries, fascists, social Darwinists, libertarians, corporatists, christian militias, and other regressives live. When you, Keith, then look way off to the left, moderates, due to the great distance, look to be standing close to liberals, which then look close to socialists, etc. In other words, you do not have the perspective to differentiate a moderate from a liberal from a socialist very well. But I, standing among them, can tell you Obama is a centrist or moderate, a bit left. Romney, in his soul of souls, if he has one, is also in the moderate spectrum, a bit right. In fact, Obama is a disappointment to many Democrats as not being liberal enough, as is Romney to Republicans for not being conservative enough. And why are they in the center, more or less? Because that is where the great majority of voters are, particularly the middle class. And that is why the Presidential candidates way out on the edge, right or left, rarely get nominated, and even more rarely, actually win the general election. I find your attempts to declare Obama a revolutionary for inevitable loose associations one forms when being a professor, community organizer and running for state and national offices, as your bush league histrionics calculated to get the overexcitable Rush groupies out to fizzled rallies.
morninmist March 31, 2012 at 03:01 PM
I just hope that TeaPary Ryan is voted out with the rest of the TeaGOP! Coffee Bean ‏ @CoffeeBean26 BUSTED! Paul Ryan lied about benefits of budget plan http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3722 #WIunion #connecttheleft @robzerban @DefeatPaulRyan1 @AARP Ryan Budget's Claim to Finance Its Tax Cuts for the Wealthy By Curbing Their Tax Breaks Does Not Withstand Scrutiny PDF of this report (3pp.) By Chuck Marr March 22, 2012 Despite warning that the nation faces the “perils of debt,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan introduced a budget on March 20 whose tax proposals would be extremely costly and would disproportionately favor the nation’s highest-income households and large corporations.[1] His budget would cut the top marginal income tax rate, now 35 percent but scheduled to rise next year to 39.6 percent, to 25 percent. It would cut the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent and eliminate taxes on the foreign profits of U.S.-based multinationals. It would eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), designed to ensure that high-income people pay at least a minimum level of tax. And it would eliminate health reform’s increase in the Medicare tax for high-income individuals. ....

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