Walker: Voters want "tough decisions" to be made

(CBS News) It happened right smack in the middle of America, and it rocked the political landscape coast to coast. The Republican governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, survived an attempt to throw him out of office.

In a rare recall election last night, he defeated his Democratic challenger, Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee, by seven points - 53 to 46 percent.

Walker took on labor unions - becoming a villain to them but a hero to many taxpayers. The question is what the vote in the key swing state may mean for the presidential election.

CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds asked Walker if "there's a lot of talk about how this race had national implications and I'm wondering what do you think about it?"

"Well, I think the biggest thing goes beyond just November. It really goes to the heart of how people govern after the November elections. I think the message voters sent for Wisconsin, across the country and around the globe was voters are serious when they say they want their leaders to take on tough decisions and I think that is what was at stake."

Walker's most controversial stand came last year, when he and the legislature stripped most bargaining rights away from unions representing government employees. It sparked huge protests, but exit polls of voters on Tuesday showed half of the state agreed with him.

Walker gives advice to Romney

Reynolds asked the governor if there is a lesson for presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

"Oh I think so. Again I think that people across America, certainly in my state, understand that America is at a tipping point and that we cannot sustain the kind of unprecedented growth we have right now in the national federal government. If the governor were to come in and talk specifically about how he is going to do this ... The risk that he is willing to take to turn the country around, I think that would be compelling," Walker said.


Huge sums of money flowed into the state to support both sides in the election. Walker raised $30 million since taking office, and $18 million more came from out of state donors, much of it since the recall election was scheduled.

Walker said he is not beholden to interests from outside Wisconsin. "The last report that we had showed more than 70 percent of our donations came from people here in the state, 50 bucks or less," Walker said.

In response to a question of if he could have won without the financial assistance, Walker said: "I don't know. I mean, you've been raising money since you took office? Well part of it is people look back to last February the national big government union bosses poured millions of dollars in tv attacking my reforms not just me but my reforms."

The governor said he felt that a certain percentage of voters were simply against recalls. CBS News exit polls found that 60 percent of them felt recalls should only occur in cases of official misconduct.


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