Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, the likely Republican nominee in the Wisconsin gubernatorial race, has a new ad in which he says that the presumptive Democratic nominee, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, has been “throwing punches” at him — and Walker shows off his the boxing gloves to fight back. Of course, Barrett was himself a victim of violent crime a year ago.
“You know, Tom Barrett can’t sell his record, so he’s throwing punches at me,” Walker says before attacking Barrett’s positions on such issues as taxes, spending and environmental laws. “I’m Scott Walker, and I took on the political machine in Milwaukee,” Walker adds, revealing that his hands are in boxing gloves which he then punches together, “and ready to go the distance as your next governor.”
A complication in the imagery of this ad: Back in August 2009, Barrett was severely beaten by a man with a tire iron at the Wisconsin State Fair. Barrett intervened to protect a woman who was trying to protect her 1-year-old granddaughter from the girl’s drunk father, who in turn then attacked Barrett. Barrett was hospitalized and has undergone multiple operations on his hand, which doctors say might never fully recover. The assailant was later sentenced to 12 years in prison.
The Associated Press asked Walker spokeswoman Jill Bader whether the ad was in bad taste, in light of Barrett having been attacked. “That was not at all what we’re talking about,” said Bader.
Granted, boxing gloves probably wouldn’t be nearly as bad as the tire iron.
The TPM Poll Average currently gives Walker a lead of 49.0%-42.9%.
(Full disclosure: I was a volunteer back in 2002 for Barrett’s first gubernatorial campaign, in the Democratic primary. I have not had any additional political involvement with him since that time.)