“Divide and conquer” stirs up controversy in recall race for governor

MILWAUKEE — “Divide and conquer.” Those three words are stirring up controversy in the recall race for governor in Wisconsin.

A video clip from a documentary film entitled “As Goes Wisconsin” has surfaced, showing Gov. Scott Walker meeting with Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks before an economic development meeting in Janesville. The date — January 2011.

Hendricks asks Gov. Walker about the chance for Wisconsin to become a completely red state and work on the unions, and what can be done to turn Wisconsin into a right-to-work state.

In the clip, Gov. Walker said, “Well, we’re going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill. The first step is, we’re going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer.”

Documentary filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein says his film tells the story of the decline of the auto industry in Janesville. He says he released the clip on his company, 371 Productions website as part of a ten-minute trailer promoting the film’s June release.

At an appearance Friday, May 11th during which Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett got an endorsement from West Allis police, Barrett said the film clip shows Walker’s “divide and conquer” ideas.

“He is not on the side of the working people of this state. He is not on the side of the middle class. He is trying to curry favor with his master,” Barrett said.

Gov. Walker talked about the film clip at an appearance in Burlington Friday. “Certainly the reforms I talked about at that time or the reforms I’ve talked about since, the reforms that helped us save more than a billion dollars for taxpayers in this state. It’s interesting that some want to go back and replay that and undo those reforms. We want to continue to move on and move forward,” Walker said.

The videographer of the documentary says he traditionally supports Democratic candidates. However, in the documentary, he says he pushed his personal beliefs aside to document the economic challenges of Janesville.

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