CNN Questions Walker's 'Hard-Line Tactics' -- After He Wins Recall Vote

Did Erin Burnett just blow off the recall election results in Wisconsin? Even though the Governor Walker won his recall election by seven percentage points, the CNN host questioned the popularity of his "hard-line" tactics on Wednesday because of Obama beating Romney in the exit polls.

Burnett even admitted the exit polls aren't completely reliable, but still asked conservative guest Grover Norquist "So do you think some of these hard-line tactics, you know this kind of my way or the highway, if you don't like it, go jump off a cliff, is not the way to do it?"

Walker's victory was by a greater margin than when he was elected in 2010, but apparently that wasn't enough for Burnett. Even liberal CNN host Piers Morgan admitted that Walker is now a "national superstar."

Morgan challenged DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz who attacked the "extremist" governor. "If you keep calling him an extremist but you accept that he won, what does that say about the people of Wisconsin? Are they all just a bunch of mad extremists?" he asked.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on June 6 at 7:10 p.m. EDT on Erin Burnett OutFront, is as follows:

ERIN BURNETT: All right our second story OutFront, all the Wisconsin talk overshadowed a crucial vote last night that dealt a serious blow to public unions. Voters slashed pension benefits for government workers in two of America's biggest cities, San Jose and San Diego, California. The fight against unions is going on from coast to coast. It's those cities, and of course it's Wisconsin. We all know about that place.

But now the anti-tax crusader, who Harry Reid once called the most powerful man in Washington, says it's a free day. States need to follow the example set by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. After Tuesday's results there came this tweet from the one and only Grover Norquist saying, quote, "There are 23 other states with GOP governor, House and Senate now able to pass Scott Walker's reforms. They know it works and is safe."

Grover Norquist is OutFront tonight. Good to see you, sir, appreciate it. So let's get straight to it. You said Governor Walker's reforms are quote, unquote "safe". I mean I have to say this one. I read that and I went wait a minute. Safe is going through a recall and you know wasting 70 to 80 million dollars on a whole recall because you didn't go about it the right way?

GROVER NORQUIST, Americans for Tax Reform: Well I think for a long time American elected officials wondered whether they could take on the power of public sector unions. What Chris Christie did in New Jersey was show that you could talk about disagreeing with the teachers union without appearing to be anti-teacher or anti-education. And what Scott Walker pointed out was that you could actually pass reforms which reform public sector unions, which save a lot of money for state and local government.

Barrett, the mayor who ran against him, had implemented many of his reforms and saved tens of millions of dollars for the taxpayers that he represented. So it works. It saves money. Public sector jobs and public sector work gets done. And even though the entire public sector union leadership threw money and resources into one state, they still couldn't take one guy and his lieutenant governor out. So it says to other governors, Wisconsin has a history of being very strong for public sector unions. It's a union state in many ways. It's a Democrat, liberal state in many ways.

BURNETT: For sure.

NORQUIST: So if you're from some other state that's not as left of center as Wisconsin traditionally has been it's – the ice is thick enough, go on out.

BURNETT: All right, so let's talk about one of those states, Ohio. Republican Governor John Kasich, GOP legislature, tried to push through reforms and cuts to pensions and roll back collective bargaining.

NORQUIST: Yeah.

BURNETT: There was a rule in Ohio, went to voters for referendum, and they said no way and it didn't pass. So it's not quite that easy.

NORQUIST: Well two things, nobody has lost an election over it in Ohio. What did happen to have, of course, they had a referred question. The campaign on that was insufficiently focused on what Wisconsin did, which is making local government work. So, yes, you can still bollucks this issue and Ohio didn't present it well and didn't raise the resources compared to what the unions did.

BURNETT: But what about the overall point here, Grover. I mean you look at exit polls in Wisconsin and you were talking about it yourself. This is a state that goes Democratic. If it goes Republican, that would be – that would shock almost everybody, no matter who wants to call it purple today, it's still a Democratic state. Right now voters according to the exit polls, which I know have their issues, prefer President Obama to Mitt Romney 51 to 44 percent. So do you think some of these hard-line tactics, you know this kind of my way or the highway, if you don't like it, go jump off a cliff, is not the way to do it?

NORQUIST: Well of course four years ago when Obama ran he won by twice that margin, so his margin in the state has fallen in half. The state's also passed a voter ID law, which a liberal judge said won't apply to this election. So this is the last election you could show up on Election Day, tell them you're Mickey Mouse, and vote. That can't happen in future elections. So the vote is going to get closer for Obama running at the national level. But I'm actually more interested in what San Jose and San Diego did reforming the overspending on pensions and benefits. The teacher tenure laws which allow teachers who have been there three years to keep their job forever regardless of whether they're doing a good job or a bad job. Those are reforms that are moving state by state. And as I pointed out, there are 23 other states that have a Republican governor and legislature, meaning if they sit in a room and say let's do what Wisconsin did, Texas and Florida, Georgia, big states.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014