Obama visits Wisconsin, stays out of recall fight

7:19 PM, Feb 15, 2012   |    comments
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MILWAUKEE -- Civility prevailed over politics in Wisconsin Wednesday as Republican governor Scott Walker welcomed President Obama to Milwaukee.

Though in different boats, the governor and the president are fishing for the same voters in the state's turbulent political waters.

For the president, who delivered a jobs speech at Master Lock in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is a key swing state. He needs the same independent voters Walker is courting as he faces an almost certain recall election, possibly this summer.

Yet Obama made no public mention of the recall during his first visit to Wisconsin since protests erupted at the state capitol exactly one year ago, after Walker backed legislation stripped public workers of most of their collective bargaining rights.

"I think the president is playing it very carefully here," said Neil Kraus, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Kraus says Wisconsin labor leaders would have welcomed more presidential support as they battled Governor Walker.

"I think that he doesn't want to alienate some independents and so he's walking a very fine line," said Kraus.

It's a strategy that appears to be working. A public opinion poll released last week by Marquette University Law School shows both Walker and Obama in the lead in Wisconsin, when matched against likely opponents.

But a stalled economic recovery in Wisconsin could hurt both. Despite the governor's "Open for Business" signs at state borders, Wisconsin has logged six straight months of job losses even as other swing states have gained jobs.

No good news in that fact for either Walker or Obama.

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