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Hillary Clinton attack machine targets Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

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EARLY TARGET: A liberal super-PAC offshoot has made Gov. Scott Walker its first target. The move seems to underscore Walker’s growing credibility with conservatives in a potential 2016 presidential run, observers say.

 

By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON — When the left hates you, you know you must be doing something right in conservative politics.

Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker arguably just got a boost to his 2016 prospects thanks to a Hillary Clinton-attached attack machine.

But one Wisconsin political observer says such a “tribute” could place a big target on Walker’s back.

Correct the Record, the offshoot of Democratic-leaning research group American Bridge, has picked a fight with Walker, the group’s first strike against a potential GOP presidential contender, according to Politico. 

Ironically, Correct the Record, rolled out to “defend Democratic candidates” for 2016, is preemptively going after Walker on his jobs record.

“As the deadline draws near, Governor and Republican Presidential hopeful Scott Walker’s pledge of 250,000 new Wisconsin jobs created by 2015 appears to be a greater and greater failure of his already controversial tenure in the State’s top job,” the release asks, adding, “As Walker attacks other Presidential hopefuls, will he take responsibility for his own failures?”

The release goes on: “The most recent state jobs report, issued Thursday, reveals that Walker is roughly one-third of the way to fulfilling his primary campaign pledge of 250,000 jobs being created in Wisconsin during his four-year term that ends in 2015.”

The assault fails to mention that Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is down, business creation is up and the state has built up a hefty surplus thanks to the Walker-led initiative, but correcting the record doesn’t appear overly concerned with telling the whole story.

Democratic super-PAC American Bridge has close ties to the former secretary of state, the left’s presumptive favorite for the 2016 presidential chase. Its offshoot is “led by Hillary Clinton 2008 strategist Burns Strider and stocked with donors and staffers who have Clintonland ties,” Politico reports.

Politico senior political reporter Maggie Haberman says the choice of Walker as the hit group’s first target is interesting.

“Slamming Walker gets Correct the Record a political hat-trick — they get to try to ding him for two elections, and to elevate him in name recognition in a GOP presidential primary battle in which New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is seen as a strong front-runner,” Haberman writes. “Walker is often described as one of the biggest threats to Christie’s ambitions.”

In short, the Clinton machine’s early attack on Walker shows national Democrats don’t see the Wisconsin governor, best known for his public-sector collective bargaining reforms, as just some Republican dark horse. They see him as a bona fide threat.

The left has hit Walker hard on his jobs pledge, harder than the mainstream media has punched at the anemic national economic recovery under President Barack Obama.

Walker political adviser Jonathan Wetzel told Politico, “You can add this to the list of national liberal special interests who have made it clear that they’ll spend whatever it takes to try to defeat Governor Walker. We’re confident that Wisconsin has no desire to return to the failed policies of the past, which is the sole focus of these out of touch interests.”

John McAdams, political science professor at Marquette University, said Hillary Clinton supporters mean business.

“When people attack you like this and when they are raising money against you it means they are taking you seriously,” he said.

But the assault is a double-edged sword, the political observer said. Walker may be forced to spend early money responding to attacks. A lot of outside money aimed at Walker, who has not committed to a presidential run, could hurt his re-election bid in 2014. The governor is no stranger to that. Special interest groups dumped tens of millions of dollars into the 2012 recall election. Walker easily won that historic race.

“On the net I’m sure this is a tribute to Scott Walker. It says he’s serious enough that serious Democrats with serious money want to attack him,” McAdams said. “But I’m sure he would like to be a little more low-profile right now and not so much a target.”

With the release of his new book and his growing cred among tea party and mainstream conservatives, flying below the radar will easier said than done.

Contact M.D. Kittle at mkittle@watchdog.org

This story was originally published Nov. 26 at 7 p.m.

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Kittle is a 25-year veteran of radio, newspaper and online journalism. In July 2011, Kittle joined Watchdog.org as bureau chief for Wisconsin Reporter. He has spent much of the past three years covering the seismic political changes taking place in the Badger State. Last year, Kittle joined Watchdog’s national reporting team, covering everything from energy policy to governmental assaults on civil rights. Beyond being published in Wisconsin’s daily newspapers and in multimedia news outlets, Kittle’s work has appeared on Fox News, and in Human Events, Reason Magazine, Newsmax and Town Hall. His special investigation into a politically charged John Doe probe, “Wisconsin’s Secret War,” was the basis of a 2014 documentary on Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze. Kittle has made several appearances on Fox News, including “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren. He serves as weekly politics commentator for Lake 96.1 FM in Lake Geneva, and WRJN-AM 1400 in Racine. His resume includes multiple awards for journalism excellence from The Associated Press, Inland Press, Wisconsin Broadcast Association and other journalism associations. Contact Kittle at mkittle@watchdog.org.