By MICHAEL FALCONE and AMY WALTER
As the dispute between Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker, labor unions and their allies continues to expand beyond the state’s borders, so too are the cheers of support for and against him. In fact, a trio of Walker’s GOP counterparts expressed reservations this week about pursuing a similar strategy in their states.
In Indiana, Gov. Mitch Daniels called on Republican state legislators to stand down on their push for a so-called right-to-work bill that seeks to ban agreements between unions and employers that would make union membership a condition of employment. Daniels argued yesterday that it would interfere with other legislative priorities, including education reform.
“For reasons I've explained more than once I thought there was a better time and place to have this very important and legitimate issue raised,” Daniels told reporters in his state.
Daniels’ allies, however, portrayed his approach as simply a matter of timing, noting that immediately upon taking office he signed an executive order limiting the collective bargaining rights of public employees. And, despite his own priorities in Indianapolis, Daniels’ has also recently expressed support for Walker.
Meanwhile, in Florida newly-elected GOP Gov. Rick Scott said that while Gov. Walker was right to try to curtail public employee benefits, he differed on the question of collective bargaining.
“My belief is as long as people know what they're doing, collective bargaining is fine,” Scott said in an interview with a local Tallahassee radio station on Tuesday.
And in Pennsylvania, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, said earlier this week that while the governor would be willing to sign a so-called right-to-work bill “that's not a top priority of his right now.”
In the Wisconsin State Assembly, Democratic lawmakers held an overnight filibuster in an attempt block consideration of the bill that would to strip public sector workers of almost all of their bargaining rights as part of Gov. Walker’s budget repair proposal. The governor threatened to start sending out layoff notices to state workers next week if a bill is not passed in time.
And despite some trepidation among some governors, Walker is continuing to get high-profile backing from other quarters. House Speaker Newt Gingrich published a message on the Web site, Human Events, today titled: “Help Scott Walker.”
“In Madison, Wisconsin, we are witnessing a profound struggle between the right of the people to govern themselves and the power of entrenched, selfish interests to stop reforms and defy the will of the people,” Gingrich wrote.
And other governors are starting to band together to support Walker’s efforts in Wisconsin. The Republican Governors Association launched a Web site yesterday called “Stand With Scott” that features pledges of support from GOP Governors Rick Perry of Texas, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Bob McDonnell of Virginia. http://standwithscott.com/
“Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is in the middle of what will be a defining moment for our country and the conservative movement,” Perry, the RGA chairman said in a statement. “It is essential that we stand with Governor Walker and show political leaders throughout the country that America is ready to take on its toughest political challenges.”
The Washington Post notes that “Republican officials said there is no coordinated campaign underway. Governors are loosely communicating, sharing text messages and occasional phone calls as they offer moral support to one another.” And the national stakes of the tug-of-war in Wisconsin seem to grow larger by the day. http://wapo.st/h7yA4I
BOTTOM LINE: The issue here is as much about style as it is substance. These newly-elected governors were swept into power to make the tough choices and bring their states back from the economic brink. But, how they choose to do it — confrontation versus compromise — may be the biggest distinction between them. Ultimately, of course, voters only care about success. If they see personal political agendas and petty partisan fights getting in the way of problem solving they will revolt.
NOTED: According to a new USA Today/Gallup poll out today, 61 percent of Americans oppose "taking away collective bargaining rights" for public unions. (The poll didn’t ask the question in the context of budget cuts.) But, when asked if they favor or oppose cutting “pay or benefits for state workers,” 44 percent of Americans support the idea, while 53 oppose it. It is, however, a heck of a lot more popular than “increase sales, income or other taxes” which got 27 percent support and 71 percent opposition. http://usat.ly/f8PqGS
PROGRESSIVES MOBILIZING. A coalition of progressive groups are announcing an Emergency Call to Action today and planning what they say will be a “massive show of solidarity with the worker’s of Wisconsin.” The groups are planning “Save the American Dream” rallies in all 50 state capitals on Saturday at noon (local time in each state).The groups behind the effort, include MoveOn.org, Democracy for America, SEIU, USAction, TrueMajority, Color of Change, PCCC, CREDO, Center for Community Change, National People's Action, Courage Campaign, Progressive Majority and Van Jones. “After decades of stagnant wages and a crushing recession, this latest assault on the American way of life is one the middle class cannot endure,” reads a message released today by the coalition of progressive groups.
DA MAYOR. Rahm Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff, has realized his lifelong ambition to become mayor of Chicago. With 97 percent of the vote in the Chicago mayor's race counted as of last night, Emanuel, 51, had 55 percent, winning the mayoral election outright and avoiding a runoff in April, ABC’s Chris Bury reports. After a topsy-turvy campaign, in which his Chicago residence was repeatedly challenged, Emanuel easily outdistanced a crowded field. His closest challenger, longtime city official Gery Chico, drew only 25 percent of the vote. Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, the so-called "consensus" African-American candidate, polled a distant fourth with only about 8 percent.
"We have not won anything until a child can go to school and not think of their safety we have not won anything. Until a parent can think of their work, and not where they're going to find work, we have not won anything," Emanuel said in his victory speech last night. "The plural pronoun of 'we' is how we're going to meet the challenges. … I do not want to see another child's name in memorial killed by violence." President Obama, Emanuel's longtime friend and former employer, issued a statement congratulating him after all five other candidates in the race had conceded. "I want to extend my congratulations to Rahm Emanuel on a well-deserved victory tonight," the president said. "As a Chicagoan and a friend, I couldn't be prouder. Rahm will be a terrific mayor for all the people of Chicago." http://abcn.ws/hziYDt
ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE.” ABC’s Rick Klein and Jonathan Karl talk to Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, about the ongoing disputes in Wisconsin and other states. Also on the program, Thomas Golisano, former New York gubernatorial candidate and National Popular Vote Spokesman. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://bit.ly/ABCTopLine
TOP LINE REPLAY — MARTIN FROST: Former Rep. Martin Frost, D-Texas, told “Top Line” yesterday that the battles between Republican governors and organized labor in states including Wisconsin, Ohio, and Iowa could wind up benefiting President Obama politically, particularly since the battles are being waged in critical presidential battleground states. “What Republicans have done is give him a golden opportunity to show them that he is on the side of the working men and women,” Frost said. “The labor movement had been kind of on the sidelines until recently. Now he may be able to motivate his base. This may actually long-term help him in the election” in 2012. http://abcn.ws/eR27SE
VIDEO OF THE DAY. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America” today, defended the Tea Party's role in budget protests around the country. “I don’t think the Tea Party started this,” Paul said. “I think circumstances did … We’re pointing out that we’ve got a real debt crisis and I think it gets worse before it gets better because there really is a problem.” http://abcn.ws/gqsq5k
WHITE HOUSE WATCH. President Obama will visit the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, this morning where he will meet with wounded warriors and their families. In the afternoon, the president meets with Secretary of State Clinton in the Oval Office. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney holds a 12:30 briefing.
BOEHNER PUTS THE BALL IN THE DEMS’ COURT. “As the strategic jockeying in a fight over federal spending kicked into high gear, the Republican House speaker, John A. Boehner, said on Tuesday that it was up to the White House and the Democrats who control the Senate to agree to at least some Republican-backed cuts to help reach a short-term deal and avoid a government shutdown early next month,” The New York Times’ David M. Herszenhorn and Carl Hulse write. “‘The House has passed legislation to keep the government running until October while cutting spending,’ Mr. Boehner said in a statement. ‘If Senator Reid refuses to bring it to a vote, then the House will pass a short-term bill to keep the government running — one that also cuts spending. Senate Democratic leaders are insisting on a status quo that has left us with a mountain of debt and a stalled economy with unemployment near 10 percent.’” http://nyti.ms/eDS6aA
REID’S NEXT MOVE. “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he will try to pass a clean bill to extend federal funding for 30 days when the Senate reconvenes next week, even though House Speaker John Boehner had flatly stated last week that his party would not agree to that,” ABC’s Matthew Jaffe notes. “Democrats have argued that their clean short-term bill would reflect $41 billion in cuts from President Obama’s 2011 budget that was never enacted by Congress. But House Republicans have been steadfast in their pledge to cut $100 billion from the president’s budget request. Following Boehner’s response Tuesday afternoon, Senate Democrats then held a conference call to rip the GOP’s stance, blasting the Speaker of the House for ‘being misled and pushed around by his conservative freshmen.’ … And just in case there was any doubt that the two sides appear to be growing further apart, not closer together, Reid noted that the two sides have not negotiated ‘at all’ on a new continuing resolution.” http://abcn.ws/i9o0mH
PALIN: NOTHING TO SEE HERE. “Sarah Palin responded tonight to accusations surrounding a leaked manuscript by a former aide, in particular a claim that she has a second Facebook account that praises the posts on her official page. ‘Pay no attention to the fake accounts and their fake messages,’ the former Alaska governor posted on her (official) Facebook page last night,” ABC’s Mary Bruce reports. “The accusations stem from the leaked unpublished manuscript of a book by Frank Bailey, one of Palin’s former aides from her time as governor. The manuscript, ‘Blind Allegiance To Sarah Palin: A Memoir Of Our Tumultuous Years,’ was first leaked by the Anchorage Daily News last Friday and is based on more than 60,000 emails that Bailey sent and received while working for the former vice presidential nominee. … ‘There’s always buzz about fake Sarah Palin Facebook and Twitter accounts. Please know that this is my only authentic Facebook account and SarahPalinUSA is my only authentic Twitter account,’ the real Sarah Palin posted tonight.” http://abcn.ws/hd5bie
WATCHING THE CHAMBER. “Engaged in a high-profile political fight during the midterm elections with President Barack Obama and other Democratic adversaries, the powerful U.S. Chamber of Commerce seemed to have little time for the attacks coming its way from a scrappy union-backed nonprofit group called U.S. Chamber Watch,” Politico’s Ken Vogel reports. “But a cache of thousands of leaked e-mails and documents made public by a group of hackers suggests that the Chamber’s allies apparently saw Chamber Watch as something more than a mere nuisance. … [Documents] and e-mails seem to show that over the past few months, the Chamber’s law firm, Hunton & Williams, was working with a task force of three cyberintelligence firms that called itself Team Themis on a multimillion-dollar plan to discredit critics of the Big Business group. Chamber officials have disavowed all knowledge of the Themis plan, describing it as ‘abhorrent.’” http://politi.co/hWClVv
DANCING WITH CHRISTINE? “Tea Party favorite Christine O'Donnell says she's been invited to be a contestant on TV's ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ But the losing Senate candidate from Delaware isn't sure she should accept, saying she has two left feet and a book about politics to complete,” the AP reports today. “The conservative Republican, who lost to a Democrat amid controversy over past statements about youthful dabbling in witchcraft, is soliciting opinions on her Facebook page. O'Donnell says her initial reaction was to say "no" to the show, but others are encouraging her to accept. O'Donnell writes she's flattered, but a 2-year-old nephew has more rhythm than she does.”
@markknoller: There's no press coverage of the visits. Pres. Obama often uses them to present Purple Heart Medals to the wounded personnel.
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