Huffpost Politics

Barack Obama On Wisconsin Recall: 'A Lot Of Responsibilities' Kept Me Away

Posted: Updated:

President Barack Obama gave his first public comments on the Wisconsin recalls since Gov. Scott Walker (R) resoundingly defeated Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) last week, telling a local TV station that he was "supportive" of Barrett but had a number of "responsibilities" that kept him away from the state.

"The truth of the matter is that as president of the United States, I've got a lot of responsibilities," he told WBAY, an ABC affiliate in Green Bay, Wis. "I was supportive of Tom and have been supportive of Tom. Obviously, I would have loved to see a different result."

Obama did not go to Wisconsin to stump for Barrett, much to the frustration and disappointment of many Democrats in the state who wanted to see the president do more to help them. Instead, Obama's campaign encouraged get out the vote efforts through social media, and the president tweeted a message of support for Barrett hours before election day.

The Democratic National Committee did, however, send $1.4 million to Wisconsin Democrats, and its chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), visited the state for Barrett.

Days before the recall elections, Obama was actually in the neighboring state of Minnesota -- just 30 miles from the Wisconsin border, in fact -- touting a veterans initiative.

When asked whether Walker's win would have "broader implications" in terms of national policy, Obama replied, "I don't think so."

"I think probably you've got specific circumstances in Wisconsin," he told WBAY. "Keep in mind, it is a bit unusual when a governor gets this much attention in the middle of his term. My suspicion is all across this country, governors who are dealing with tough budgets have to make tough decisions. But one of the lessons learned is that it is better to make them with people than against people."

Last week, after the recall elections had taken place, the Obama campaign sent out a fundraising appeal warning supporters that Democrats could lose again in November if the campaign did not get more money.

The interview with WBAY was one of eight conducted Monday at the White House with local television stations in battleground states. They coincided with the launch of a White House initiative that will direct $2 billion from the Small Business Administration to rural communities.

Full transcript:

WBAY: I'd like to ask you about Wisconsin's recall election. There are a lot of Democrats that are upset you didn't campaign for Tom Barrett.

OBAMA: The truth of the matter is that as president of the United States, I've got a lot of responsibilities. I was supportive of Tom and have been supportive of Tom. Obviously, I would have loved to see a different result. But the broader principle is that we want an economy that is not focused on a few at the top but is a broad-based economy that invests in our future, that makes sure we've got a strong education system that is thinking about workers and their ability to pay their bills, is something in everything I do. Shows those are values I care about deeply. And we're going to be fighting very hard in Wisconsin, just like we have in the past, to make sure that's the kind of government people get.

WBAY: Do the results, when you think policy-wise, have broader implications going beyond Wisconsin going into the election?

OBAMA: I don't think so. I think probably you've got specific circumstances in Wisconsin. Keep in mind, it is a bit unusual when a governor gets this much attention in the middle of his term. My suspicion is all across this country, governors who are dealing with tough budgets have to make tough decisions. But one of the lessons learned is that it is better to make them with people than against people. My goal, if we can bring parties together, there are ways we can manage through tough fiscal decision whether at the federal or state level. But everybody's a part of it, everyone is doing their fair share and nobody's bearing the entire burden of sacrifice. I think that's what the American people are looking for: Balanced approaches that take everyone into account.

Around the Web

Obama says he was too busy to visit Wisconsin

Obama's Wisconsin Takeaway

Scott Walker: GOP can't win referendum on Obama