In this slow-burner of a clip from Wednesday night’s MSNBC coverage of the Republican National Convention, Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker (R) found himself caught in the crossfire between two of the sharpest political commentators on television, “Ed Show” host Ed Schultz and Rachel Maddow, host of “The Rachel Maddow Show.” The interview begins cordially enough, but things start to get heated at about the 3-minute mark, when Maddow and Schultz pin Walker down on the question of something vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said in his speech about President Barack Obama’s alleged failure to save a Wisconsin auto plant.
Perhaps hoping that he would get to talk to Joe Scarborough or former network stalwart Pat Buchanan, Walker had wandered up to the MSNBC cameras and reporter Ron Mott to discuss the emotional impact Paul Ryan’s speech had on him.
“A lot of folks in my small town of Sullivan went to work in that plant in Janesville and talked about that promise that President Obama made years ago, about that plant not closing down,” he said. “That’s the real deal. That showed that this isn’t some disconnected concept. This is the real deal in places like Janesville.”
A moment later, Maddow chimed in. “Gov. Walker, it’s Rachel Maddow in New York,” she said, “I appreciate the chance to talk to you about this. I don’t mean to be a fact checker, but on that Janesville GM plant, isn’t it true that that GM plant closed during the Bush administration? Your criticism that the auto bailout wasn’t big enough to come back and reopen it? That was not Barack Obama shutting down that plant.”
“No, actually,” the governor replied, “it had two rounds of layoffs and ultimately closed down just a few years ago.” He went on to allege that if the companies had engaged in “managed bankruptcies” early on, then some hardships may have been avoided.
It wasn’t long before Schultz joined the fray.
Cutting through Walker’s cloud of mealy-mouthed equivocations, he said, “It was not Barack Obama’s economic policies that shut down that GM plant. That plant was closed in December of 2008. It’s in the Washington Post right now, Gov. Walker. It had nothing to do with Barack Obama’s economic policies whatsoever, you can’t get away from that fact.”
Walker suddenly looked as if he wished to be anywhere but in front of that camera. He tried to assert that if people at the plant had taken Mitt Romney’s advice and pursued a “managed bankruptcy” sooner, the plant might or might now still be open, but that taxpayers would have been saved millions of dollars.
“So are you making the case that that plant in Janesville would have better employment today if they had followed Mitt Romney’s theory of a ‘managed bankruptcy?’” asked Schultz, “That you could guarantee in your economic model that that plant would still be employing and making things today?”
At that point, MSNBC host Al Sharpton erupted and the crosstalk became unintelligible with Walker insisting over and over that Barack Obama promised to keep that plant open, a promise that the president never made.