Governor Scott Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett debated Friday night. Few punches were pulled of the candidates faced off in the event sponsored by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association debate. Barrett hammered Walker early, on the now-infamous “divide and conquer” comment, and for starting an “ideological civil war.” Later, while responding to a question about health care, the governor called Barrett out on what he’d do. “It’s been 44 days since he was first asked,” said Walker. “He hasn’t told the voters. He doesn’t have a plan.”
AUDIO: First debate question (4:15)
“We saw hundreds of thousands of people in this democracy, who decided that they wanted a change,” said Barret. “They wanted an opportunity to elect a governor who would put this state firs.” Walker maintained throughout that the reforms contained in his controversial Act 10 are working, and that he’s moving the state forward. He conceded he could have done a better job explaining. “My problem is I fixed it, then I talked about it. Most politicians spend all their time talking about it, but never fix it. In the future we’re going to both talk about it and fix it,” he said.
Barrett criticized Walker for raising millions of dollars on trips out-of-state. And, noting that he was not the prefered candidate of organized labor, he said that’s an indication that he won’t simply do whatever his supporter want – in contrast to Walker. “It’s easy to say yes to people who give you millions of dollars. It’s easy to say no to your political opponents. The real test of leadership is whether you can say no to people who are your friends. Scott Walker has never asked for shared sacrifice.”
The candidates were questioned on a wide variety of topics, including whether they would support civil unions for same-sex couples in the state. “I believe in marriage equality, and I think it is an issue where opinions have evolved,” said Barrett. “I took an oath of office to uphold the constitution of the state of Wisconsin, and the constitution very clearly defines marriage as between one man and one woman. I continue to support that,” said Walker.
AUDIO: Closing statements (3:20)
Barrett and Walker are expected to debate once more prior to the June 5th election.