June 5, 2012

MOVING TO THE RED COLUMN?:

Recall Battle in Wisconsin May Snarl Obama Camp (JEFF ZELENY, 6/04/12, NY Times)

While the presidential campaign is well under way across the country, the contest has been overshadowed here by the effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican. The election, a culmination of more than a year of bitter unrest, has created a combustible political climate that defies easy characterization in the five months leading up to the general election.

But Mr. Romney is within striking distance of Mr. Obama in Wisconsin, according to several public and private polls and interviews with strategists in both parties, and he intends to start building a campaign operation off the robust get-out-the-vote machinery assembled for Mr. Walker. The decision by the Romney campaign to try to contest Wisconsin is the first sign that Republicans are eager to expand their targets of opportunity and compete on terrain that not long ago seemed squarely on Mr. Obama's side.

"If we win on Tuesday, this is going to be a shot in the arm and adrenaline that we didn't expect to have," said former Gov. Tommy G. Thompson, a Republican who is seeking the party's nomination to run for Senate. "It is going to spark fervor in the presidential race."

Mr. Obama has purposefully tried to keep his distance from the recall fight, which has unfolded with all the intensity and acrimony of a presidential campaign within the borders of Wisconsin. The mayor of Milwaukee, Tom Barrett, is the Democratic candidate trying to replace Mr. Walker, who ignited a furor by cutting collective bargaining rights for most of the state's public workers. It is a rematch of the 2010 governor's race, which Mr. Barrett lost to Mr. Walker.

The White House has showed tepid support for the recall. Democratic advisers thought the effort would take time and money away from the presidential campaign and poison the pool of independent voters who were a key part of Mr. Obama's success here four years ago, when he carried the state by 14 points and swept 59 of 72 counties.

The president, who campaigned for Mr. Barrett two years ago, has been conspicuously absent this time.

It's not as if staying out of the race will save the UR any embarrassment, whereas it does depress his base.
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Posted by at June 5, 2012 5:55 AM
  

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