Gov. Walker splits with Romney, says firemen, teachers aren’t ‘big government’

Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) disagreed Sunday with Mitt Romney's conclusion that the failed recall election in Wisconsin was evidence that American voters want fewer public workers such as teachers and firemen.

“I think it's slightly different – I think in our case what they wanted was people willing to take on the tough issues not only here but across the country,” Walker told CBS's Face the Nation. “I know in my state our reforms allowed us to protect firefighters, police officers and teachers. That's not what I think of when I think of big government.”

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Walker survived Wisconsin's first-ever recall election on Tuesday, defeating Milwaukee's Democratic Mayor Tom Barrett 54 percent to 46 percent. The election has caused a new round of soul-searching among Democrats who were forced to play defense after the setback for labor and amid new weak economic data made worse by President Obama's gaffe that “the private sector is doing fine.”

While Obama quickly walked back the remark, Republicans jumped to portray the president as “out-of-touch.”

On Friday, Romney sought to capitalize on Obama’s comment and the failed Wisconsin recall. 


Obama says “we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers,” Romney said at a campaign stop in Iowa. “Did he not get the message in Wisconsin? The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government.”

Obama’s campaign released a video Saturday saying that "Romney economics" would lead to fewer teachers, firefighters, and police officers.

"The last thing our country needs is to have fewer teachers in our schools," the campaign tweeted from its official account.

Walker on Sunday also said Wisconsin, traditionally a Democratic stronghold, is now “up in the air” if Romney can articulate a program for restarting the economy and reforming government.

“I think it's very much in play,” he said.

Appearing on the show later, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D-Md.) said it would be a mistake to read too much into the failed recall election, pointing out that Democrats won a largely symbolic vote to win control of the state Senate, which doesn't meet until the November elections.

“There are battles,” he said, “and there is a longer struggle.”