Gov. Scott Walker did a radio interview Wednesday morning on NPR’s Tell Me More, responding to the recall drive that was officially launched Tuesday as a backlash against his anti-public employee union laws.
During the interview, Walker stood by his policies as an important set of fiscal reforms and changes in government flexibility for the state. Later on, host Michele Martin asked Walker what the appropriate role should be in the recall campaign for interest groups outside Wisconsin, both those who favor and oppose him.
Walker began by demurring on the matter of the appropriate role for outside groups, correctly pointing out that it will happen no matter what. And then he ripped into the unions, accusing them of artificially kicking up the recall campaign from out of state.
“I believe actually if they get the signatures, it’ll largely be because these national big-government unions put the money behind that,” said Walker. “I would imagine they’ll spend tens of millions — and if it was over 40 million for the Senate recalls [referring to the wave of state Senate recalls earlier this year], it may well be 70 or 80 million dollars there.”
It should be noted that the $40 million figure given by Walker here was in fact not just a matter of the unions — it was the total spending by all sides, both pro- and anti-Walker, and including the incumbents and the challenging candidates.
Michel Martin was beginning to raise that point: “But there are conservative groups supporting you—”
Walker continued without missing a beat: “—And I think most people look at that and say, that’s absurd. You know, I spent 13 million running for governor. You’re gonna see multiple times that amount. You’re gonna see groups coming in from outside of our state who want to influence this race.
“I think it’s more about power — because let’s remember, the real reason the unions nationally are involved in this isn’t because of pensions or health care contributions or workers’ rights or anything else. The real reason is because we also as part of our reforms gave every worker in our state the right to choose whether or not he or she wants to be part of a union, and no longer have their dues forcibly removed from their payroll.”
Michele Martin cut in again: “There are groups supporting you too, Governor, in fairness. There are outside groups that are also interested in this for their own—”
Walker answered: “I think every election has — but they wouldn’t be here if the national unions weren’t forcing a recall. I mean, most of your listeners across America probably are scratching their heads on the recall to begin with. Because most states have recalls and say, misconduct in office, some sort of thing like that, that triggers it. Not just, I disagree or agree with a piece of legislation. But this is really about power. The Recall Scott Walker Web site was actually started in November of 2010. So anyone who thinks this wasn’t — that somehow this is an organic movement that just popped up, the reality is the person who started that recall site started it last year, two months before I took office.”
Martin asked: “But could it also be about philosophies of government?”
“Well, if that’s the case, then have a debate,” Walker answered. “See in 2014 if that philosophy has worked or not worked. That’s what elections are about. You’re elected, you serve a term. If the people like what you do, if they want to continue down that course and go further in the future with your plan, then they vote for you. If after a term a is up, if they don’t like it and they want to tread up a new course, they elect someone different.
“But here, really what you’re having is largely fueled — because believe me there wouldn’t have been the number of bodies, and this is not hyperbole — I mean, we saw the signs and the banners and the posters of people who proudly said they were in from other states early this year around the Capitol.
“We see the people streaming back over from Ohio, after that referendum a week ago. They’re not shying away from it, they’re not saying that’s not the case, they’re actually embracing it, saying we’re bringing bodies and money in from all across America. To me, this has all been about power. It started last November, not earlier this year.”