Stumping for Democrat Tom Barrett in Milwaukee on Friday morning, former President Bill Clinton framed the Wisconsin recall election as an urgent occasion to move beyond political divisiveness and toward increased cooperation.
"Cooperation works; constant conflict is a dead bang loser and you need to get rid of it," Clinton said at a rally at Pere Marquette Park, in Wisconsin's largest city.
The most recent polling shows Barrett trailing Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Sensing the need to boost turnout in the final days of the campaign, Democrats turned to the popular former president on Friday. Clinton twice carried the state in the 1990s.
Speaking before Clinton, Barrett, sporting a Milwaukee Brewers jacket, blasted Walker as a divisive figure who has championed the rich at the expense of everyone else.
"We have a governor who has done a wonderful job making the wealthiest people the happiest people," Barrett said. "My concern is for the middle class of this state and the people who want to join the middle class."
Praising Barrett as the best steward on education, the budget, and job creation, Clinton repeatedly implored voters to turn out for the mayor, saying they need to vote for him if they "believe in an economy of shared prosperity when times are good and shared sacrifice when they are not."
Clinton is the highest-profile Democrat to campaign on the ground with Barrett. President Obama has kept the recall fight at arm's length, and hasn't made a stretch-run appearance for the Democratic nominee.
The recall election, sparked by Walker's controversial 2011 budget control measure which curbed collective bargaining for public employees, will reach its conclusion on Tuesday. Millions of dollars have been spent on the race, mostly by Walker and his GOP allies.
The former president acknowledged that while he hasn't always been a fan of recalls, the stakes are higher than ever in Wisconsin.
"Ordinarily, I am against recall elections," he said, citing his opposition to a 2003 recall effort in California. "But sometimes it is the only way to avoid a disastrous course."
Walker spent the morning in Appleton, where he visited a manufacturing company. This afternoon, he will campaign with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley in Sussex.