As organizations on the left rally support for union workers across the Midwest, GOP presidential hopefuls are glomming on to the issue themselves. Likely GOP presidential candidates including Tim Pawlenty and Jim DeMint have latched on to anti-union sentiment online, recognizing the issue’s national relevance and hoping to generate donations and signups from supporters they can go back to during their 2012 presidential runs.
“The gig is up for public employee groups who demand better benefits than the taxpayers who are paying the bill. I’m confident Governor Walker’s reforms will succeed in Wisconsin. Stand strong, Scott — average taxpayers everywhere are rooting for you,” states StandingWithScott.com, which redirects to Pawlenty’s Freedom First PAC website.
Similarly, The Republican Governors Association recently launched its StandWithScott.com site, which asks people to “Support the RGA as we defend Scott Walker.” Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is fighting the state’s Senate Democrats to pass legislation that would increase public sector union worker pension and healthcare payments, and would limit their collective bargaining capabilities.
Pawlenty, formerly Minnesota Governor, is promoting a petition and video through his Twitter and Facebook accounts and the PAC site, supporting Walker as his showdown with the state’s public unions dominates national news coverage.
Like the campaign promoting Pawlenty’s book, “Courage to Stand,” the Walker campaign push is accompanied by a high-impact, sensationalized video. In this case, it employs close-up images of cable TV talking heads to tell of the happenings in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and elsewhere in the country where Republican governors are waging legislative wars with unions. “Check out our new video in support of @GovWalker and join us in standing with him,” declared a post yesterday on Pawlenty’s Twitter account.
A variety of labor unions themselves – backed by the Democratic National Committee-run Organizing for America – have been using the web, including e-mail and social sites to rally protestors to key state capitals and solidarity events around the country. The 2008 Obama for America presidential campaign and its huge supporter list became Organizing for America after Barack Obama won the election. Daily e-mail appeals from MoveOn.org have asked for donations to support the pro-union cause. The left-leaning group recently asked members to change their Facebook profile status update to read, “Today I stand with the teachers, nurses, and all public employees of Wisconsin who are fighting for their rights. If you do too, change this to your status for the rest of the day.”
Possible 2012 GOP primary candidate Mitt Romney is backing Walker. Donation requests on his Free and Strong America PAC Twitter and Facebook accounts ask supporters to donate in support of the Wisconsin Governor through the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, an organization dedicated to supporting Wisconsin State Senate Republicans. “Donate now to support Governor Walker and Wisconsin’s GOP senators as they attempt to restore fiscal sanity,” demanded a post to Romney’s Facebook page recently.
Wisconsin’s own Committee to Elect a Republican Senate is running Google search and display ads to attract donations from across the country. “Get Back To Work – WI Sen Dems Skipping Town. WI Teachers Skipping School,” states an ad targeted to searches for keywords like “Scott Walker.”
Indeed, the national interest in the union issue – and potential to parlay that into donation revenue and signups on a national level – was clear even to the Republican Party of Wisconsin, which began running search and display ads through Google last week. “We went national from the very start; we never had a plan to target Wisconsin specifically,” said Robertson Price, chief digital strategist at Key Reactions, the digital political agency handling the Wisconsin GOP effort.
Another potential Republican primary candidate, Jim DeMint, is hoping to harness national interest in the Wisconsin union issue to generate donations for The Senate Conservatives Fund – and to spur interest in a “National Right to Work” law, which could result in a more rapid decline in union membership. The U.S. Senator from South Carolina, who chairs the fund, linked to his essay on the “Union Showdown in Wisconsin” from his Facebook page this week.
“The unions will be even more active in the next election. They are certain to go after Republicans more aggressively then [sic] they ever have before. The unions are viewing Wisconsin as a community organizing ‘warm-up’ for 2012,” stated DeMint in the article on The Senate Conservatives Fund site. He went on to ask for donations to help ‘us pass the National Right to Work law, which will prevent workers from being forced to join a union and pay dues as a condition of their employment.”
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