CHARLOTTE, North Carolina -- Former Wisconsin governor Jim Doyle has been out of office for nearly two years and has sought to stay out of the limelight -- and out of Gov. Scott Walker's way. FOX6 News caught up with Doyle at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Since leaving office in 2010, Doyle has done a lot, including working on health care initiatives, advising alternative energy companies, working for foundations and spending more time with his family -- all out of the public view.
Doyle has been the invisible man of Wisconsin politics in one of the state's most highly visible times, and he says that's exactly the way he wants it.
FOX6's Mike Lowe: "It's a time-honored tradition that once you leave office, you don't comment on your successor, but I have to imagine there were times over the last two years where you really had to bite your tongue."
"Yes, there are times I've had to bite my tongue, but I do believe in that tradition. I have made a point of not sitting in the background and not saying 'I would have done it this way' or 'I wouldn't have done this.' I have gone about my life and I think that's important. I respect presidents that have done it. Governors around the country have done it. It wasn't a courtesy extended to me by the way, but by my doing it I would hope other governors in the future would do the same," Doyle said.
Mike Lowe: "You had to at some point want to respond to Alberta Darling standing up on the Senate floor calling it the Doyle deficit, Scott Walker blaming you for many of the problems. Was there any point you wanted to defend yourself even if you weren't directly criticizing the current governor?"
"You know, when you take a step a way, you can see the political rhetoric for what it is. If you look at the deficit, the irony is the largest deficit in Wisconsin history is the one I inherited. The biggest cuts ever made in state government, were ones I made. Those are the facts," Doyle said.
Mike Lowe: "You are still keeping a hand in politics. Tell us why you're here today."
"One thing I am most devoted to, and will do anything I can to help in any way is to see that Barack Obama is re-elected President of the United States," Doyle said.
Mike Lowe: "You were one of the first governors to support President Obama, way back in the 2008 primary. Has he disappointed you in any way?"
"Not at all. To me, the most amazing thing is the Republican leadership -- and they even admit this -- they would obstruct and see the economy of this country go down the drain, rather than have Barack Obama reelected to a second term," Doyle said.
Mike Lowe: "If Republicans simply want to obstruct there's no political benefit to trying to find a compromise and there's no practical benefit to it either."
"The practical benefit is he has been able to get things passed. He did get healthcare passed," Doyle said.
Mike Lowe: "Do you think President Obama has been the transformational figure that many had hoped he would be, or has he been more of a conventional president?"
"I don't think you know transformative presidents until you're 20, 30, 40 years out. I have no doubt when historians wrote about this period in our history they're going to say this was a major transformation," Doyle said.
Mike Lowe: "Wisconsin delivered a 14-point victory to Barack Obama in 2008. It's a state famous for its progressive streak. Bob LaFollette and Russ Feingold are among the names people remember from Wisconsin. What accounts for the rightward shift in this state over the last two years?"
"It wasn't like in the rest of the country. It was a Democratic year and Wisconsin went differently. What we were part if in 2010 was a very national event that occurred politically, but if you look two years earlier after the election of President Obama, there were articles saying the Republican Party is dead, so these things move back and forth," Doyle said.
Insights from Doyle and ones he will no doubt share with students when he goes back to school next semester. He will be serving as a visiting fellow at Harvard.
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