Former President Bill Clinton was back in the political saddle, in Wisconsin, this time delivering what the Washington Post called a “home run” speech, framing the recall there as a stark choice between unity and division — and cooperation and conflict.
Here’s his speech:
The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent:
Bill Clinton, in his speech in Wisconsin just now, framed the recall election as a stark choice between unity and division, between cooperation and conflict, and between shared prosperity and right wing winner-take-all economics. Democrats on the ground in the state are very satisfied with Clinton’s speech, and think he hit the right note to amplify their closing message.
Whether it will be enough, of course, is another question entirely.
“Cooperation works,” Clinton said, in a frequently repeated refrain. “Constant conflict is a dead bang loser. And you need to get rid of it.”
Interestingly, Clinton spent little time directly attacking or even naming Scott Walker, invoking conflict and division themselves as stand-ins for the current governor by frequently repeating the line “divide and conquer,” Walker’s infamous phrase in the video that surfaced recently. And Clinton tried to innoculate Barrett against two of Walker’s main attacks: that he’d presided over a bad economy in Wisconsin, and that he’s soft on crime.
But the most important part of Bill’s speech was the call for voters to come out to the polls on Tuesday, in order to rebuke the national conservative movement’s huge financial investment in this race, and to make a larger statement about the type of leadership they want for the state and the country in the future.
This is a strong articulation of the message Dems hope to close this out on. The basic case Dems have tried to make is that Walker’s experiment has introduced an uncompromising and dictatorial leadership style into the state that’s fundamentally at oddds with its character; that Walker’s preconceived and sharply ideological agenda has torn the state apart; and that only by ending the Walker experiment can Wisconsin reunite and move forward again. That’s why Bill framed the choice on Tuesday as one about Wisconsin’s fundamental identity.
It’s anyone’s guess whether this will be enough to make up for Walker’s seeming lead in the polls.
Perhaps not. But Clinton may be providing a “teachable moment” for Barack Obama on part of the way Obama could try to frame the election, as GOPers including Rush Limbaugh push for in your face campaigning and essentially suggest the party should forget trying to appeal the county’s middle.