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Barrett, Walker argue about the future of Wisconsin

Recall election is Tuesday

MADISON, Wis. - Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said Tuesday's recall election against Republican Gov. Scott Walker is about the future of Wisconsin.

Barrett made his comment Thursday in the second and final debate against Walker before Tuesday's recall election.

Barrett said Walker wants to make Wisconsin the tea part capital of the country.

Walker said the recall is about whether people want politicians who make tough decisions. He said that's what he did with his policies, including effectively ending collective bargaining for most public workers.

The debate's most heated moment came when Walker attacked Barrett for misreported crime statistics in the city of Milwaukee, and Barrett fired back.

"Violent crime has not gone down. The Journal Sentinel investigative team pointed that out, and if it was worth it for people to vote for you in the primary, then the same question is legitimate in the reverse," Walker said.

"It's down. It's down," Barrett replied. "My (police) department is arresting felons; you have a practice of hiring them."

Walker and Barrett also sparred over whether jobs were created in Walker's first year in office. They had a spirited exchange over jobs in Thursday's debate.

Walker two weeks ago issued employment data that showed about 23,300 jobs were created in 2011, a dramatic positive swing from previously reported numbers showing a 33,900 drop, which was worst in the nation.

Walker said he knows the new numbers undermine Barrett's campaign, but "the facts are the facts."

"I realize this undermines the focal point of your ads the last 2 months. We gained jobs," Walker said.


Barrett said even if Walker's numbers are to be believed, Wisconsin's job creation numbers would still be the worst in the Big Ten.

"And the fact is, using your numbers, are dead last in Midwest, and (those numbers) you're proud of. You want to be mediocre," Barrett said.

Barrett said Walker will definitely sign a bill making Wisconsin a right to work state.

"Mark my words, he'll sign it," Barrett said in the debate.

Walker said the bill will never pass, but he refuses to say whether he would veto such a bill. He again on Thursday refused to say whether he would sign or veto such a bill, saying that was a hypothetical he wouldn't address.

Barrett said Walker would have a "fall from grace with the far right if he would say he's going to veto that."

The debate moderator also asked about the John Doe investigation that made headlines Thursday with another former Walker aide being granted immunity.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also reported Thursday that Walker's office may not have been cooperating with the investigation.

Barrett said the issue spoke to Walker's lack of trustworthiness. But Walker reiterated that his office asked for the probe and wasn't able to cooperate how he would have liked, but that he wasn't allowed to speak further on the issue because of a request from the district attorney.

The hour-long debate in Milwaukee was broadcast statewide.

Turnout in Tuesday's election is predicted to be as high as 65 percent, which is nearing levels normally seen in presidential contests.

Walker has raised about $31 million since taking office, including about $20 million this year, in an effort to fend off the recall. Barrett, who got into the race on March 30, has raised about $4.2 million. 

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