Bill Clinton to campaign against Scott Walker ahead of Wisconsin recall

Former President Bill Clinton will head to Wisconsin to campaign against Republican Scott Walker as Democrats hope to stage a late-inning comeback in their recall effort against the controversial governor.

Clinton's appearance was first reported by the Washington Post. In a Marquette University poll released Wednesday, Walker held a seven point lead over his Democratic opponent, Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett, although Democrats maintain internal polling shows a tighter race.

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The effort to recall Walker came after the governor controversially moved to restrict state workers' ability to unionize, prompting mass protests across Wisconsin. Many are looking to the June 5 election as a proxy battle for Republican austerity efforts, and as a measure of union influence in 2012. Labor has poured substantial resources into defeating Walker, while conservative political action committees have also proven aggressive in the state.

Clinton's entrance into the race could disrupt what had seemed like a likely victory for Walker, however. The former president has posted an impressive record in 2012 endorsements to date, helping Rep. Mark Critz (D-Pa.) and Pennsylvania attorney general candidate Kathleen Kane both win their Democratic primaries after trailing early on. Clinton also helped Maryland businessman John Delaney to a unlikely primary win in April.

According to the Post, Clinton had been unsure about whether he would go to Wisconsin, despite heavy lobbying from top Democrats.

President Obama has not appeared in the state to support Barrett. On Wednesday, Obama's campaign team looked to distance the president from the outcome of the recall effort.

"This is a gubernatorial race with a guy who was recalled and a challenger trying to get him out of office," Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter told MSNBC. "It has nothing to do with President Obama at the top of the ticket."

Cutter also said she didn't believe Obama's presence would tip the scales.

"If you think that the secret weapon here is sending President Obama, then, you know, I'm pleased that you believe that. But I think that actually having people organizing and volunteering and turning out the vote and doing everything they can that actually affect an election is actually more powerful," Cutter said.

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