Former President Bill Clinton visited Pere Marquette Park Friday to support Democrat Tom Barrett as Wisconsin's tumultuous recall election nears its end.
Clinton made cooperation the theme of his speech and hammered Gov. Scott Walker for his "divide and conquer" tactics.
"Everywhere I go in America, everywhere I go in the world, the only thing that's working is when you get everybody who's got a stake in the game in there, treat them with respect and people go forward together," Clinton said. "That's how you get out of a ditch."
Clinton said Barrett is the candidate better for education, the budget and creating jobs. He and Barrett also used the event to urge people to vote early, with absentee voting coming to an end Friday.
Hundreds filled the park just after 10 a.m. as Clinton and Barrett rallied the troops. A few Walker supporters were also sprinkled throughout the crowd carrying signs clearly identifying who they stood for.
One man marched through the middle of the crowd with a sign that said, "Support Scott Walker, NOT Union Thugs." A Patch reader who attended the event said the man was shouting so loud, she couldn't even hear Clinton speak. Milwaukee Police confirm this is the only arrest from Friday's rally so far.
Earlier Friday morning, the Republican Party of Wisconsin released a statement noting it was Clinton campaigning with Barrett, and not President Barack Obama.
"Clinton's arrival is clearly meant to provide cover for President Obama's refusal to campaign in Wisconsin, given that today the President will be attending three campaign events a stone's throw away in Minneapolis, and then three more in Chicago," Communications Director Ben Sparks said. "The President has made it clear he does not wish to touch Tom Barrett or this baseless recall election with a ten-foot-pole; he clearly learned a thing or two from the failed campaigns of Creigh Deeds and Martha Coakley."
Clinton briefly addressed some remarks he made in 2003 against the recall of then-California Gov. Gray Davis. He said then that recalling Davis "will create a circumstance where nobody ever makes a hard decision again," words that made the rounds ahead of his appearance in Wisconsin Friday.
"Ordinarily, I'm against recall elections," Clinton said. "But sometimes it is the only way to avoid a disastrous course."
The crowd erupted with cheers and applause after that statement, thrusting their signs into the air, filling the space above the crowd with a sea of political signs.
Barrett, wearing a Brewers jacket, insisted the polls are close and said the election depends on voter turnout.
"(The election) is for you, it's for your children, it's for your grandchildren, it's for our state," Barrett said. "We know Scott Walker has become the rock star of the far right ... my intent is to serve the people of this state, because it's the people of this state that deserve to have a governor on their side."
Following the rally, Clinton signed books and political signs for a few supporters before being whisked away by the Secret Service.
Check back on Patch later today for updates on this story.