Barrett Says Obama Visit Would Have Been Distraction

By: CNN Posted By Doug Brown
By: CNN Posted By Doug Brown

(CNN) – The Democratic challenger in Wisconsin's gubernatorial recall election said Tuesday the lack of a presidential campaign stop did not leave him feeling ignored, claiming such high-profile assistance would have turned the race into a national spectacle.

Of course, the vote taking place Tuesday has already grabbed headlines nationwide, and out-of-state groups have flooded the state with a massive influx of campaign cash. Yet Tom Barrett, the Democratic mayor of Milwaukee, said a visit from President Barack Obama would only have distracted from issues important to Wisconsin voters.

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"I think there are some that want to make it a national election," Barrett said Tuesday on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien."

"That's part of my gripe about this is, is I don't want Wisconsin to be the experimental dish for the right wing," Barrett continued. "I want Wisconsin to return to Wisconsin values. So, there are some particularly on the other side who do want to nationalize this. I want this to be all about Wisconsin families, about Wisconsin jobs, about the future of this state, not the future of political dreams of people who don't live in this state or don't care about this state."

Obama did signal support for Barrett on Twitter Monday, writing on the social messaging website, "It's Election Day in Wisconsin tomorrow, and I'm standing by Tom Barrett. He'd make an outstanding governor. -bo." Tweets signed "-bo" are understood to have been written by the president himself.

On Sunday, Barrett told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley on "State of the Union" he wasn't concerned Obama hadn't shown up in Wisconsin to stump.

"We understand that he's got a lot going on," Barrett said.

While Obama didn't make the trip to campaign on Barrett's behalf, the mayor did enjoy high-profile campaign stops from former President Bill Clinton and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, also campaigned last week on behalf of Barrett.

Meanwhile, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley visited the state to bolster Barrett's Republican rival, Gov. Scott Walker, on Friday. She was the latest in a string of national Republicans - including Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Bob McDonnell of Virginia and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, as well as Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida - to travel to Wisconsin.

Barrett and Walker are facing off for the second time - the two ran against each other for governor in 2010. Tuesday's recall vote is the culmination of a two-year fight over collective bargaining rights for public employee unions. Walker, who signed massive cuts to collective bargaining rights, presents his decision as necessary for Wisconsin's fiscal health. Barrett says Walker sparked a political "civil war" in the state.

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