Glossed over in this Associated Press report about Friday's Wisconsin recall rally starring former President Bill Clinton is the fact that only "hundreds" showed up. Not only is Gov. Scott Walker's Democrat opponent, Tom Barrett, the mayor of that great city, but Milwaukee represents one of two liberal strongholds in the state -- the other being Madison. By contrast, at yesterday's pro-Walker rally in Racine, somewhere around 4,000 showed up to see, among others, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Congressman Paul Ryan, and our own Dana Loesch.
Racine is a fair-sized city of 79,000 about 40 minutes south of Milwaukee. By contrast, the City of Milwaukee has a population of nearly 600,000.
You can, I suppose, make an argument that the Clinton rally was held on a work day and was, as has been reported, hastily arranged. But Bill Clinton was once a sitting U.S. president, a Democrat president, and one who is more popular today than he ever was in office -- and he has always been very, very popular in the City of Milwaukee. Oh, and Barrett is the sitting mayor of that city and currently one of two men engaged in one of the most nationally critical non-presidential elections of the last ten years.
Spin and caveat it however you wish, but that kind of turnout under those circumstances does not bode well for Democrats.
Oh, and Democrats held a competing rally in Racine yesterday. And, uhm, "hundreds" showed up.
Maybe now we know why President Obama conspicuously stayed away from this fight, though I doubt that was always the plan. On Friday, the President attended a record six fundraisers, all of them within a few hours of Wisconsin. Fundraisers are usually scheduled well in advance, which means that it's not outrageous to wonder if the original plan had been to schedule these fundraisers nearby in order to give Obama the opportunity to host a rally or two in Wisconsin. If that's the case, the polls showing Walker in the lead likely scared Obama off.
Considering the month he's had and Friday's disastrous economic and jobs' numbers, the last thing the President needs is a cycle of Wednesday morning stories documenting his loss of magic in a state he won by 14 points in 2008.
Of course, Obama might have simply decided to send Clinton to Wisconsin in order to feel like he created a job.
What's important, though, is that Republicans don't allow the promising tea leaves to turn into over-confidence. Reports also show that Democrats and their union pals are working very, very hard at the ground game; driving people to early voting stations, canvassing, and making phone calls.
Regardless, should Walker and Kleefisch prevail and Republicans hold on to all the State Senate seats also up for grabs, the margin of victory will matter. The bigger the victory, the louder the message. Wisconsin must tell the country that rule of law matters, that elections have consequences, and that the days of thuggish unions bullying the very taxpayers who pay their salary are over.
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