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For Wisconsin Crowd, Romney Invokes "Union Bosses"

Romney knows his audience in Wisconsin, where organized labor is a dirty word for Republicans. "The recall has definitely sucked all the oxygen out of the political room," says a local politico.

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MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin — Mitt Romney's biggest applause line tonight was a hat tip to the movement to keep Governor Scott Walker in office, and an acknowledgement that his race is not the main attraction in recall-crazed Wisconsin.

In his victory speech, Romney told a crowd at the Grain Exchange in Milwaukee that "Workers should have the right to form unions, but unions should not be forced upon them. And unions should not have the power to take money out of their members’ paychecks to buy the support of politicians favored by the union bosses." — a reference to the war over collective bargaining rights that has led to a recall election for Governor Scott Walker, scheduled for June 5.

Romney also jabbed at President Obama's past as a community organizer, which also appealed to the distaste that Wisconsin Republicans feel toward the statewide Democratic organizing against Walker. "The ironic tragedy is that the community organizer who wanted to help those hurt by a plant closing became the President on whose watch more jobs have been lost than any time since the Great Depression," he said.

The Republican primary is winding down just as the Wisconsin recall is kicking into high gear, and local Republicans say the presidential election is something of an afterthought in their state.

"Right now, the recall is more important," said Washington County GOP chairman Jim Geldreich. "The enthusiasm level on our side is very high, and I don't think the tactics of the unions and the rest of the people on the other side is going to be enough."

Ted Kanavas, a former Wisconsin state senator, told BuzzFeed that "the recall is hands-down, five to one, seven to one, ten to one -- you pick a number -- more important to voters in Wisconsin than presidential politics right now."

"June is coming fast," Kanavas said. "The recall has definitely sucked all the oxygen out of the political room."

Rosie Gray is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. Gray reports on politics and foreign policy.

Contact Rosie Gray at

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