CAP TIMES: Walker aide requests removal of jobs story from Rhinelander station

September 5, 2013
Steven Elbow

Gov. Scott Walker is starting to get more national attention. Not because of his potential presidential run, but because of an apparent misstep by Walker's office.

On Monday, Walker was in Merrill celebrating the 40th anniversary for manufacturing company Northern Wire. At that event, Walker made a statement that seemed to be backing away from his campaign promise to create 250,000 jobs during his first term, a promise that seems increasingly unreachable.

"My goal wasn't so much to hit a magic number as much as it was, in the four years before I took office, when I was campaigning, I saw that we lost over 133,000 jobs in the state," Walker said. "I said, 'it's really not about jobs, it's about real people, real jobs like those here, and more importantly, affecting real families all across the state.'"

That was first reported on WJFW Newswatch 12 up in Rhinelander. In a subsequent story, WJFW reported, "Walker's press secretary, Tom Evenson, called Newswatch 12 on Tuesday, and asked if we could be persuaded to take Monday's story off our website."

Not only didn't the station remove the story from its website, it linked back to it in the story reporting that Evenson made his call to try and quash it.

Having originated in Rhinelander, it took awhile for the story to gain traction. But on Thursday the Huffington Post ran a story with the headline, "Scott Walker's office tries to disappear story doubting jobs pledge."

Today on MSNBC's MaddowBlog, a story mentioning the Evenson fiasco was headlined, "Wisconsin's Walker: 'It's really not about jobs...'"

When Walker was running for governor, he confidently promised to create 250,000 jobs. The recession was ending and experts were predicting a recovery that would erase the loss of more than 130,000 jobs lost during the downturn, and then some.

For a while, all going to according to plan. Three months into his tenure, the state was on pace to meet the governor's jobs target. But despite Walker's "reforms," Wisconsin has proved to be painfully inept at creating jobs. With 16 months to go in Walker's first term, the state is about a third of the way to the projected quarter million.

Walker has spent a good part of the week trying to back away from the remarks he made backing away from his campaign promise. In one statement, he re-branded the campaign promise as a "big, bold aggressive goal." 

Here's a quote from Walker from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

"That promise, that pledge made in the campaign was... the reason we focused on it is because we saw the state losing 133,000 jobs before that. And so we wanted a big, bold aggressive goal. Whether we are at 249,000 or 255,000 or whatever the magic number is for us, we wanted to go from losing jobs to gaining jobs. All of our focus and attention is overwhelmingly on not just meeting that goal, but part of my nuance the other day... I'm not going to take a rest the minute we hit 250,000."

But Walker has also been busy explaining why he believes job numbers have fallen short of his projection. Turns out, it's because of Capitol protests, recall elections and Obamacare.

Referring to the protests and recalls, prompted by Walker's anti-union policies, Walker told the Milwaukee Business Journal: "The uncertainty created by reactions to those events had some impact on our ability to create jobs. That’s not an excuse — it’s just a simple matter of fact.”  

And of Obamacare, he said many employers are holding off hiring until they can figure the law out.

"Many small and midsize employers say it’s the uncertainty,” Walker said in the story, which was posted on Wednesday. “They haven’t figured (Obamacare) out and they don’t know the impact and until they do, that’s the part that concerns them the most.”

Walker's messaging suggests he's heading into re-election mode and anticipating his Democratic opponent will make an issue of the jobs pledge. Meanwhile, Democrats have been mostly silent on the issue this week.

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