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Wisconsin Governor Candidates Spar in First Debate

Friday, 10 Oct 2014 08:57 PM

Republican Gov. Scott Walker defended his record of creating jobs and working to improve Wisconsin's economy during a debate Friday, attempting to deflect criticism from Democratic opponent Mary Burke that he didn't live up to what he promised.

The hour-long debate in Eau Claire was the first for Burke and Walker. For many voters, it was their first opportunity to hear from Burke outside of a campaign ad. She is in the midst of her first statewide campaign, while Walker is on the ballot for the third time in four years, having won a recall election in 2012.

Burke came out swinging against Walker in her opening statement, saying he failed to deliver on his signature 2010 campaign promise to create 250,000 private-sector jobs. Walker said the 100,000 jobs that have been created are significant, given that the state lost 133,000 jobs in the years before he took office as the recession took hold.

"I think we want to keep going forward with things that work," Walker said. "We don't want to go backward with the things that got us in trouble before."

But Burke argued that after four years, and with the state ranking 33rd in private-sector job growth, it was time to make a change.

"I know we can do better, a lot better," Burke said.

The race has drawn national attention both because it's close and because Walker is widely considered to be in the mix for a 2016 presidential run should he win re-election. The latest Marquette University Law School poll released last week showed Walker with a slight edge, up 5 percentage points with a 4.1-point margin of error.

A panel of broadcast journalists questioned the candidates, who stood close to one another behind podiums.

Burke, a former state Commerce Department secretary and executive at Trek Bicycles, is a member of the Madison school board. She has never debated before a live statewide audience.

Walker has run more than a dozen campaigns, has been in public office since 1993 and is a veteran of high-stakes, prime-time debates. Walker faced the recall in 2012, after he curbed public sector union rights shortly after taking office in 2011, and became the first governor in U.S. history to survive such an effort.

While Walker is known for being unflappable on the campaign trail, Burke has stumbled on occasion, in particular when asked last month to define plagiarism in the wake of questions about the source of information in her jobs plan.

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Republican Gov. Scott Walker defended his record of creating jobs and working to improve Wisconsin's economy during a debate Friday, attempting to deflect criticism from Democratic opponent Mary Burke that he didn't live up to what he promised.The hour-long debate in Eau...
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Friday, 10 Oct 2014 08:57 PM
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