AFL-CIO President: ‘I Think We’ll Take out Scott Walker’

By Melanie Arter | May 7, 2012 | 5:04pm EDT

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (AP Photo)

( AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said he is confident that the labor movement will be successful in removing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker from office, and he downplayed the fact that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett – who has had a “rocky relationship” with labor unions – is the frontrunner in the Democratic primary.

“In Wisconsin, the candidate who seems to be getting a lot of the labor support is not doing well in the Democratic primary, whereas, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett seems to be the frontrunner there, and he’s had a rocky relationship with labor. How does that happen and what are the stakes now for you in Wisconsin?” Washington Post reporter Peter Wallsten asked Trumka on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers.”

“I think we’ll take out Scott Walker, ‘cause he’s had billions of dollars come in from Big Oil interests, people like the Koch brothers. They brought things in, and he is still very, very unpopular. He is permanently unpopular, because he took on, and he attacked workers rather than creating jobs that he told that population he was gonna do if he was elected,” Trumka said.

Trumka said the labor movement will rally around whoever wins the primary.

“Look, after the primary is over, whichever one of those wins, everybody’s gonna come together and support ‘em. You can say whatever you want, just like no one blanched at all when Michelle Bachmann endorsed Mitt Romney yesterday – the person she said was the next thing to evil a few weeks earlier. Look there’s been disputes with both of those candidates. Most of the labor supported one. Some labor supported the other. After the election they’ll come together,” he said.

Walker will face the winner of Tuesday’s Democratic primary in the state’s recall election. Polls show Barrett and Walker in a statistical tie.

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Wallstein asked Trumka what it would mean if Walker held onto the governorship.

“It would mean he would be a debilitated governor for the next two years in office, and he would be finished the next time he runs,” said Trumka.

“What would it say about President Obama’s prospects of winning in Wisconsin?” Wallstein asked.

“I don’t know that it would say anything. They’re gonna spend more money, probably, in Wisconsin – the Koch brothers and Karl Rove, and everybody – than they’re gonna do in most other states,” Trumka said.

“Do you think it would embolden lawmakers in other states to try and strip collective bargaining rights?” Melanie Trottman, a reporter from the Wall Street Journal, asked.

“Quite the contrary, would you like to take this fight on? A year after you’re in office, would you like to be in for the fight of your life, spending $25 - $35 million to hold onto a seat that you were supposed to have for four years and you lose a majority in the Senate? Would that embolden you? Not if you’re sane and rational it wouldn’t,” Trumka said.

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