Why mudslinging has overshadowed the labor fight that started the push to get rid of the governor 16 months ago
As the Wisconsin recall came down to its final, furious days, the fight between Gov. Scott Walker and the man who would oust him from power, Democrat Tom Barrett, took a personal turn.
Forget Walker's rammed-through collective bargaining bill that set this whole thing in motion 16 months ago; in the final debate between the two candidates, Barrett accused Walker of dirty tactics for airing a crime-themed ad he compared to the notorious "Willie Horton" spot -- and then he all but called Walker a crook.
"I have a police department that arrests felons," Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee, said in the debate's most charged exchange. "He has a practice of hiring them.".
This is what it had come to as the long-awaited recall finally dawned Tuesday: two candidates reaching desperately for any new argument that might budge an electorate whose minds seem firmly made up. Polls have consistently shown Barrett lagging Walker, but because it's expected to be close, both sides view their sophisticated turnout operations as potentially decisive.
The ad in question, being aired by Walker's campaign, opens with the blurred face of a two-year-old who died after being hospitalized for child abuse. "But Tom Barrett's police department didn't consider it a violent crime," the narrator intones, going on to conclude that Barrett "isn't telling the truth."