Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) knocked Mitt Romney's campaign Wednesday for playing it too safe and assuming the election will just be a referendum on President Barack Obama.
"I think there's a lot of caution. I think the mistake that they’ve made is the feeling like it can just be a referendum on the president," Walker said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "It's certainly a part of it for any incumbent: it's got to be a referendum on, 'Do you like or dislike, not just the president, but his policies?' But there’s got to be something more. People don't just vote somebody out -- they've got to vote somebody in."
The governor, who recently won a historic recall election in Wisconsin, said that contrary to a widespread perception of Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee is both personable and relatable and should play up those strengths more on the trail.
"The bottom line is they've got a plan like any good campaign, and what I point out to them is I'm not attacking him. I think he has the capacity to do it, I wish he would do it more," said Walker. "When he was with Paul Ryan and I in Janesville a few weeks ago, he was great. He relates to people well, relates to small-business owners well. I would like to see more of that."
"His performance is the best on the road," Walker continued. "In fact, I would get rid of the podium, get him right in the crowd and defy all the stereotypes built about him in the media, because I think he can relate. In many ways they've pulled him back and want it to be a referendum on the president. I don't think that's enough."
Walker isn't the first Republican to urge Romney to be more than just the anti-incumbent. In recent months, a growing chorus of conservative voices has made clear their feeling that Romney should stop running as "anything but Obama," especially in the wake of the Obama campaign's brutal attacks on Romney's business record.
Let's Get It On: Wave Election Sweeps In Conservatives
In 2010, a surge of Tea Party momentum and backlash against Democrats helped elect conservatives including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/02/AR2010110208185.html" target="_hplink">became the state's first Republican governor since 2002</a>. Walker promised to cut taxes and create 250,000 new jobs, but <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/19/AR2011021904205.html" target="_hplink">a deeper look into his past</a> also showed a politician who had inflamed tensions with unions before.
Welcome To The Jungle: Clashes With Unions
After taking office, Walker <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/11/us-wisconsin-budget-unions-idUSTRE71A7FP20110211" target="_hplink">announced a number of controversial proposals</a>, including eliminating collective bargaining rights for state employees and reducing public employee benefits. <a href="http://www.wuwm.com/news/wuwm_news.php?articleid=7768" target="_hplink">He said the reforms were necessary </a>to prevent thousands of layoffs. Facing anger from unions, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/11/scott-walker-unions-wisconsin-national-guard_n_822225.html" target="_hplink">Walker threatened</a> to mobilize the state's National Guard in response to any disruptions. The announcement <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/16/wisconsin-governor-scott-walker-backlash-public-workers_n_823901.html" target="_hplink">was met with backlash</a> across the state.
Hush: Wisconsin Bans Collective Bargaining
The fight over Walker's proposed budget was contentious, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/20/wisconsin-democratic-senators-illinois_n_825748.html" target="_hplink">with Wisconsin Democratic state senators crossing state lines </a>to Rockford, Ill. in an attempt to stall the vote. In March 2011, Walker signed the budget, significantly <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2011-03-12-wisconsin-law-analysis_N.htm" target="_hplink">curtailing collective bargaining rights</a> for union-affiliated public employees. Thousands of protesters <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/16/wisconsin-budget-protests_n_824213.html" target="_hplink">gathered in Madison</a>, and labor leaders and Democrats <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/11/scott-walker-signs-wiscon_n_834508.html" target="_hplink">vowed to fight back</a>.
We're Not Gonna Take It: Foes Organize
In the months following his signing of the bill, Walker's opponents organized, announcing their intention to recall the governor and his supporters. They <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/05/wisconsin-protesters-walkerville-tent-capitol-scott-walker-budget_n_871523.html" target="_hplink">erected a tent city</a> and believed they'd <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/07/scott-walker-wisconsin-election-supreme-court_n_846042.html" target="_hplink">won a surprise victory over</a> a conservative state supreme court judge, before amended voting totals from one county reversed the victory. Walker <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/16/scott-walker-mistakes-policies_n_900820.html" target="_hplink">continued to defend his policy </a>but said he had made mistakes in the political execution.
Fake Empire: State Senators Face Recall
Wisconsin Democrats scored a victory in their attempt to unseat Republican state legislators when they defeated six "fake" Democrats <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/14/scott-walker-recall-_n_898116.html" target="_hplink">running in the party's primaries</a>. Four of the six Republicans targeted for recall <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/12/scott-walker-wisconsin-recall-election_n_925331.html" target="_hplink">held onto their seats</a> in the general election.
Let's Get It Started: Recall Effort Makes Ballot
Petitions to recall Walker and his lieutenant governor <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/27/scott-walker-recall-signatures-wisconsin-governor_n_1304091.html" target="_hplink">gathered nearly a million signatures</a> each, far exceeding the 500,000 needed. Election officials <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/29/scott-walker-recall-wisconsin-election-signatures_n_1389229.html" target="_hplink">ordered a recall election</a>.
Us Against The World: The Fight Moves Forward
Democratic candidates faced tough odds from the start. In an April 2012 report, HuffPost's Amanda Terkel <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/04/scott-walker-recall_n_1401143.html" target="_hplink">noted</a> that only two sitting governors had been recalled in U.S. history. Four Democratic candidates competed in the May primary, headed by former Dane County executive Kathleen Falk and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
Better Man: Tom Barrett Wins Primary
After a tough primary, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/08/tom-barrett-wisconsin-recall-primary-scott-walker_n_1501568.html" target="_hplink">Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett</a> bested three other Democratic candidates in an early May primary. Barrett's victory set up a rematch with Gov. Walker, whom he lost to by about five percentage points in the 2010 race.
Don't Stand So Close To Me: Walker, Barrett Neck And Neck
Less than 48 hours before the recall, Public Policy Polling (PPP) released a final poll, showing <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/03/wisconsin-polls-scott-walker-recall-tom-barrett_n_1566788.html?ref=politics" target="_hplink">Walker with a narrow lead</a> over his Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. <a href="http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2012/06/walker-leads-by-3-points.html" target="_hplink">PPP</a>, a firm affiliated with the Democratic Party, compiled a final poll showing Walker at 50 percent support, three percentage points ahead of Barrett's 47 percent.
The Man Who Can't Be Moved: He Survives
After a whirlwind day of voting that featured <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/05/wisconsin-recall-overwhelming-turnout_n_1572386.html" target="_hplink">swarmed polling places</a> around the state, media outlets <a href="https://twitter.com/mpoindc/status/210186998009434112" target="_hplink">called the race for Walker</a> less than an hour after polls closed. Full election results <a href="http://elections.huffingtonpost.com/2012/wisconsin-recall-results" target="_hplink">here</a>.