MILWAUKEE -- Bill Clinton doesn't really like recalls. In fact, the former president spoke out against the process in 2003, when California was attempting to recall then-Gov. Gray Davis. But he told a fired-up crowd in downtown Milwaukee on Friday that sometimes, recalls are the only solution.
"Ordinarily, I'm against recall elections. I went to try to fight one in California," Clinton said at a rally for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) in Pere Marquette Park. "But sometimes, it is the only way to avoid a disastrous course. Sometimes, it is the only way to avoid being misunderstood."
Clinton's last-minute visit, announced just a day ago, is the most high-profile trip to the state by a national Democratic figure pitching in on the recall battle. Barrett is hoping to unseat Gov. Scott Walker (R) in Tuesday's election.
The former president repeatedly attacked Walker for his "divide and conquer" strategy, stressing that cooperation was necessary to turn the economy around.
"If you go anywhere in America today, believe it or not, there are a lot of places that are already back. They all have one thing in common ... They are involved in creative cooperation, not constant conflict," Clinton said, adding, "Cooperation works. Constant conflict is a dead-bang loser."
He also slammed Indiana's GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, Richard Mourdock, who recently beat the more moderate incumbent, Sen. Richard Lugar, in the Republican primary. Clinton did not mention Mourdock by name, referring to him instead as Walker's "closest recently nominated ally."
"Dick Lugar was condemned for working with the president of the United States -- who happened to be with another party -- on national security. [Mourdock] said he shouldn't cooperate ... He said our views are too opposed, so we have to keep going until we force the American people to make a choice. [Mourdock said] I will never compromise," said Clinton. "That is what is wrong with America today."
Barrett, Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Mahlon Mitchell, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) and two state senators also spoke at the rally. The congresswoman read a poem about Walker and then broke out into a song called "Hit the, Road Scott" (to the tune of "Hit the Road, Jack").
Democratic volunteers in bright yellow traffic vests were recruiting new volunteers, asking for donations and handing out campaign signs in the park. Just one pro-Walker supporter was spotted, holding a very large sign in the middle of the crowd. That individual was later arrested for causing a ruckus, according to Patch.
Clinton seemed thrilled to be in Wisconsin, telling the crowd, "I'm grateful to you. You voted for me twice!" After the event was over, the former president stuck around to shake hands and take pictures with attendees on the rope line.
At the beginning of his speech, he assured the crowd that he had written his own remarks, saying, "So, folks, just in case you think this was set up by somebody else, these are the notes I wrote about what I want to say to you. The great thing about not being president is you can say whatever you want. Nobody has to care anymore, but you can say it."
Coincidentally, Clinton is also in the news for his off-message comments on Thursday, when he told CNN that he believed Mitt Romney's onetime firm, Bain Capital, did "good work." The remarks received attention because they weren't in line with criticisms the Obama campaign has been leveling against the former Massachusetts governor's private equity days.
Walker is campaigning with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) on Friday afternoon in nearby Sussex, Wis.
UPDATE: When asked a few hours after the event what he thought of Clinton coming to Milwaukee, Barrett told The Huffington Post, "It's a great shot in the arm for people who have been following the campaign. He can energize people and he has a wide appeal to independents in Wisconsin. There are a lot of independents here in Wisconsin who have a lot of respect for Bill Clinton's economic policies, his fiscal policies and his budgetary policies."