Wisconsin Seen as the Linchpin in 2012 Politics – And Beyond

Congressman Paul Ryan says this year's outcomes in Wisconsin will affect a whole generation. And national pundit Michelle Malkin says a Walker recall loss would be "the most damaging thing" in American politics

Wisconsin is "ground zero." Wisconsin is "pivotal." Wisconsin is "critical." Wisconsin is where "the battle will be won."

Or lost.

Speaker after speaker at the "Defending the American Dream Summit" Saturday in Milwaukee reiterated that this is the battleground for conservatives.

It's expected that presidential hopefuls will tell the party faithful that their state's votes are the most important, wherever they might be.

But the only such presidential hopeful on the docket Saturday at the Wyndham Hotel was former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum. Yet, speaker after speaker on the docket — be they sitting members of Congress or pundits or organizers at the national, state or local levels — said the same:

All eyes are on Wisconsin.

Here is where they make their stand

The Wisconsin Republican primary, just 10 days away on April 3, could set the Republican ticket. A win by Santorum could keep him in the race. A win by Mitt Romney, the frontrunner now, could seal the deal for him.

In the national election come November, Wisconsin, always a swing state, could make or break either party.

But a strong undercurrent during the day at "the summit," sponsored by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, was concern about the Wisconsin recall elections.

Most of all, the outcome of the recall elections here, especially the one challenging Gov. Scott Walker, could be a bellwether of national politics and in every state.

Moreover, contended Michelle Malkin, nationally known blogger and regular FOX News contributor, a Walker loss could change the very face of democracy, making every governor and elected official vulnerable to the whims of a disgruntled minority.

Malkin said such a loss would be "the most damaging thing" that could happen in all of American politics.

Going to the grassroots – perhaps for life support

The summit itself was billed as an educational conference put on by the AFP's Foundation arm, offering training in grassroots activism, particularly through social networking.

It was organized in 18 days and drew nearly 1,000 registered participants without any significant notice in the mainstream media, said state director Luke Hilgemann.

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In interviews, Hilgemann, echoed by Malkin and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, said the Republican Party was catching up and in some ways surpassing the Democrats in organizing followers through social media and grassroots organizing, long the domain of the left.

The presence of Santorum on the speaker's list may have been an indication of his need to run strong in Wisconsin and to tap that grassroots support.

"All the candidates were invited," Hilgemann said. "We even invited President Obama to explain his economic vision."

That Romney, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul did not come is perhaps indicative of their various positions in the race.

Romney is not just the frontrunner, he has recently been dubbed the presumptive nominee by elder statesmen in the GOP such as John McCain and Bob Dole.

that has turned a majority of Wisconsin voters toward Romney as the party's best hope. Gingrich and Paul are hardly registering life signs here or on the national vital signs monitor.

Santorum took the stage Saturday and spent about two minutes attacking President Obama's policies before turning his attention entirely to attacking Romney.

And the next next GOP nominee is...

Even though he shocked his own party earlier this week in Louisiana by comparing a vote for Romney to one for Obama, Santorum continued in that vein Saturday in Milwaukee, saying that no one could tell Romney's policies from Obama's on important issues from health care to energy.

Santorum got a warm enough welcome from the crowd, as did U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson earlier.

But the wild enthusiasm was saved for the guy who says he is "really into numbers" — U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the final speaker of the day.

Santorum might possibly be a nominee for next president of the United States, despite great odds.

Ryan, it would seem, might very likely be a nominee for next president after that, if he wants to be.

"The battle … is coming to a main crescendo this year," Ryan told the enthusiastic crowd. "Because of math and momentum, the change will last for a generation.

"The debt crisis is coming and we see it coming. All these smart economists tell us that we’ve got about two years."

Obama's "fourth budget proposes to do nothing about this debt crisis," Ryan said. "No, I take that back. He’s going to make it worse.

"The good news: It is not too late to turn this around. We can do this. We an grow our economy by letting people keep more of what they earn.

"We need to be talked to like adults and not pampered like children. We need to deserve victory.

"We will save the American idea."

Bren March 27, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Richard, I appreciate your staunch defense of the elderly, but a re-read of the comments might reveal the sarcasm with which they are written. Many are concerned about discussions of cutting senior care programs, for the elders we know and for coming generations.
Randy1949 March 27, 2012 at 04:50 PM
It needs to be pointed out that Social Security and Medicare are huge gifts to younger families, because they lift the financial burden of caring for Grandma and Grandpa and allow those families to save for their own retirement. Plus maybe have a little left for Grams and Gramps to leave to them.
Bren March 27, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Keith Best, are you insinuating that Barack Obama is guilty simply by association? I don't consider George W. Bush to be a Nazi sympathizer because his grandfather Prescott laundered concentration camp profits for the Nazis prior to and at the beginning of World War II. Nor do I hold against David and Charles Koch the fact that their father Fred made a fortune working for/in the Soviet Union (a "communist" country) in the late 1920s and early 1930s. I believe it is possible to be acquainted with many people, each with their own ideologies and belief systems, without becoming that way oneself.
Dirk Gutzmiller March 28, 2012 at 01:09 AM
@Keith Best - Well, I imagine you, having read your bleatings, standing over on the right-wing edge, about as far right as you can get without falling off, where the reactionaries, fascists, social Darwinists, libertarians, corporatists, christian militias, and other regressives live. When you, Keith, then look way off to the left, moderates, due to the great distance, look to be standing close to liberals, which then look close to socialists, etc. In other words, you do not have the perspective to differentiate a moderate from a liberal from a socialist very well. But I, standing among them, can tell you Obama is a centrist or moderate, a bit left. Romney, in his soul of souls, if he has one, is also in the moderate spectrum, a bit right. In fact, Obama is a disappointment to many Democrats as not being liberal enough, as is Romney to Republicans for not being conservative enough. And why are they in the center, more or less? Because that is where the great majority of voters are, particularly the middle class. And that is why the Presidential candidates way out on the edge, right or left, rarely get nominated, and even more rarely, actually win the general election. I find your attempts to declare Obama a revolutionary for inevitable loose associations one forms when being a professor, community organizer and running for state and national offices, as your bush league histrionics calculated to get the overexcitable Rush groupies out to fizzled rallies.
morninmist March 31, 2012 at 03:01 PM
I just hope that TeaPary Ryan is voted out with the rest of the TeaGOP! Coffee Bean ‏ @CoffeeBean26 BUSTED! Paul Ryan lied about benefits of budget plan http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3722 #WIunion #connecttheleft @robzerban @DefeatPaulRyan1 @AARP Ryan Budget's Claim to Finance Its Tax Cuts for the Wealthy By Curbing Their Tax Breaks Does Not Withstand Scrutiny PDF of this report (3pp.) By Chuck Marr March 22, 2012 Despite warning that the nation faces the “perils of debt,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan introduced a budget on March 20 whose tax proposals would be extremely costly and would disproportionately favor the nation’s highest-income households and large corporations.[1] His budget would cut the top marginal income tax rate, now 35 percent but scheduled to rise next year to 39.6 percent, to 25 percent. It would cut the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent and eliminate taxes on the foreign profits of U.S.-based multinationals. It would eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), designed to ensure that high-income people pay at least a minimum level of tax. And it would eliminate health reform’s increase in the Medicare tax for high-income individuals. ....


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