Huffpost Politics

Tom Barrett Will Stress Scott Walker's 'Failure To Lead' In Final Debate

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Mayor Tom Barrett and Gov. Scott Walker at the first debate May 25.
Mayor Tom Barrett and Gov. Scott Walker at the first debate May 25.

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett plans to continue aggressively criticizing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) Thursday night when the men meet for their second and final debate before the June 5 gubernatorial recall election.

Barrett told The Huffington Post before addressing supporters at the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Milwaukee that he has no plans to change his tactics from the first debate.

"We're going to continue to talk about the issues surrounding his failure to lead effectively," Barrett said. "They're issues of trust, the lack of jobs. Really, we're going to talk about how this whole movement started. It's a grassroots movement, and it's going to end as a grassroots movement. And both times, issues of trust are integral to what we're doing."

Barrett will be joined by former president Bill Clinton for a rally in Milwaukee on Friday morning, and said he was "excited" about the event.

"He's such a great motivator," Barrett said of the former president. "Obviously, when he was president, this country was doing very, very well. He was fiscally responsible, but at the same time, recognized the importance of the middle class."

President Barack Obama has endorsed Barrett. The president's aides said neither Obama nor Vice President Joe Biden have plans to campaign in Wisconsin. Obama will be nearby on Friday, appearing at several events in Minnesota.

When asked whether he would like the president to visit Wisconsin, Barrett replied, "We'd love to have him zip over to western Wisconsin. I'm happy to meet him for a fish fry."

Barrett also said he was "pleased" with his first debate with Walker. One of the most surprising moments of that May 25 face-off was when the two candidates were given opportunities to question each other, and Walker declined to do so. Barrett, however, asked Walker why he refused to release his out-of-state schedule for fundraising and political trips.

When asked what he made of Walker's decision to decline the question, Barrett replied, "I don't know. I wasn't shocked. I thought it was a little strange." He added that he has plenty more questions and would be happy to use the governor's time.

Joining Barrett at the pre-debate party was Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, the chair of the Democratic Governors Association. O'Malley was in Madison campaigning for the mayor earlier on Thursday. He said a Barrett win would, obviously, help the Democratic Governors Association reach its goal of getting more Democratic governors in office.

"And certainly, the longer arc of Wisconsin history is the arc of a state that's moving forward, that's a leader in job creation, not one that ranks 50th out of 50 in job creation," O'Malley told The Huffington Post. "That's a leader in a more inclusive vision of America, not a Wisconsin that's restricting rights, rolling back rights, limiting rights and freedoms."

The governor's association sent $1 million last week to the Democratic-allied groups Greater Wisconsin and We Are Wisconsin to support advertising and get-out-the vote efforts. The group also has invested more than $3.2 million in the state -- more than in either the 2006 or the 2010 election cycles.

When asked what national implications the recall may hold, O'Malley replied, "Anytime there's Democratic gains, that helps the Democratic nominee in November."

O'Malley continued: "Every state's different, every dynamic is different, but certainly it's hard to find a more ideological and ineffective Republican governor than you have in Scott Walker."

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