'Big deal': Former governors Thompson, Walker work to unite GOP, stump for Trump

’Big deal’: Former governors Thompson, Walker work to unite GOP, stump for Trump

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Two former Wisconsin governors who haven't always seen eye-to-eye are teaming up in the battleground state. Their goal: Unite Republican voters to help elect former President Donald Trump.

Former Governors Tommy Thompson and Scott Walker are joining forces this election cycle to stump for Trump, an announcement that came during the former president's rally in Racine last week.

"Scott Walker and I are going to cross this state with you hand and hand because if we win, and we are going to win, Wisconsin is the difference," Thompson told the crowd of supporters.

In a state where four of the past six presidential elections have been decided by less than a percentage point, Republicans are putting the duo together on the campaign trail -- a move that some believe could bring more enthusiasm to the presidential race.

Bill McCoshen, a lobbyist and GOP strategist who previously served as chief of staff to Thompson, says both former governors can bring a boost to the Trump campaign and appeal to suburban women, a key voting demographic that's have trended away from Trump in recent years.

"Sending the message to party regulars that Tommy and Scott are on the same page is a big, big deal," McCoshen said. "The party has been divided over the last few years and bringing them back together means everyone is pushing in the same direction."

Thompson and Walker helped lay the groundwork for many conservative policies in Wisconsin, but they haven't always been united on their views or candidates.

During last year's pivotal state Supreme Court election, Thompson threw his support behind former Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly and Walker endorsed Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow.

Kelly finished in the top two spots during the primary but ultimately lost the April election to liberal candidate Janet Protasiewicz.

It happened again during the 2022 primary with the former governors split on GOP gubernatorial candidates Tim Michels and former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch.

"They haven't always seen eye to eye on candidates," said McCoshen. "But on this one they are united. They think Donald Trump is their best answer for the Republican party."

Brian Schimming, chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, said having the former governors on the campaign trail is "a testament to the urgency of the moment."

“Wisconsin Republicans recognize this is a critical election for the future of our country," Schimming said. "It is a testament to the urgency of the moment that Governors Tommy Thompson and Scott Walker are moving in unison to spare America four more years of Joe Biden.” 

Having the two former governors barnstorm the state comes as Democrats continue to grow their operation in Wisconsin. Right now, the state party has the upper hand with more money and boost on the ground.

"I think the Democrats have an advantage, but the Democrats won't get burned again like they did in 2016," said Democratic strategist Scot Ross.

The Biden campaign said they currently have 47 field offices open across the state and over 100 full time staff.

Republicans have over 30 offices and rely heavily on grassroots efforts to mobilize voters, Schimming said. 

The GOP will also be in the limelight next month when Milwaukee hosts the Republican National Convention in July.

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