Tuesday’s recall election in Wisconsin has been imbued with national consequence, with many political watchers declaring that the outcome could have significant implications for November’s presidential race.
“It's Election Day in Wisconsin tomorrow, and I'm standing by Tom Barrett. He'd make an outstanding governor,” Obama wrote Monday night, capping the Tweet with the “-bo” signature that denotes a “personal” tweet from the president himself.
It was the only time the president personally has voiced support for Barrett, the current Milwaukee mayor seeking to oust Republican Gov. Scott Walker, since Barrett won the Democratic primary in early May. The president has not made any appearances in the state, nor has his campaign invested significant resources in the race.
Barrett has consistently trailed in the polls, although the margin has tightened in recent days.
The president’s tweet was followed by an eleventh-hour email blast aimed at Wisconsin-based supporters of Obama for America and the Democratic National Committee. The emails, first noted by BuzzFeed, were sent early Tuesday morning.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the DNC, chimed in Tuesday morning with a tweet of her own, urging voters to locate their polling place and “make history.” The DNC has directed $1.4 million to the state during the 2012 cycle.
As the Los Angeles Times' David Lauter noted, Obama twice flew over Wisconsin on Friday, stopping in Chicago and Minneapolis, without touching down in the Badger State — a move some interpreted as indication the Obama campaign was bearish on Barrett’s prospects.
Deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said in an interview on MSNBC last week that the Wisconsin battle was not necessarily a harbinger of what’s to come in November.
"This is a gubernatorial race with a guy who was recalled and a challenger trying to get him out of office," Cutter said. "It has nothing to do with President Obama at the top of the ticket, and it certainly doesn't have anything to do with Mitt Romney at the top of the Republican ticket.”
But Republicans, feeling good about Walker’s chances, have been quick to play up the race’s significance. And Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus poked fun at Obama’s Twitter endorsement Monday night, responding with a tweet of his own: “bold tweet from the President who wouldn't actually campaign with him or step foot in Wisconsin #istandwithwalker.”
[For the record, 10:27 a.m. June 5: An earlier version of this post said that Barrett was the former mayor of Milwaukee. He is the city's current mayor.]