Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett (D) on Thursday blasted current Gov. Scott Walker (R) for using "Willie Horton" style tactics by running a commercial that includes pictures of a dead toddler.
"He’s running a commercial right now that shows a dead baby," Barrett charged during the final debate before voters cast their ballots in the recall election. "He shows a picture of a dead baby. This is Willie Horton stuff."
With the "Willie Horton" comment, Barrett was referring to a 1988 commercial where supporters of Republican presidential candidate George H.W. Bush attacked Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis over a murderer was who was furloughed while the Democratic candidate was governor of Massachusetts. Horton never returned from his weekend pass and eventually committed a rape and other crimes. Democrats cried foul, saying the advertisement was unfair and racist.
"You should be ashamed of that commercial, Scott Walker," the Democrat added.
An ominous attack ad created by the Walker campaign late last month shows a blurred image of a dead child and charges: "This 2-year-old spent six days in intensive care after being severely beaten, but Tom Barrett's police didn't consider it a violent crime."
Barrett, who is mayor of Milwaukee, explained that the city's police department made a "bureaucratic mistake" by not changing a code in the computer system, but the baby's killer was brought to justice.
"And you're running a commercial attacking my integrity, claiming I did something to do this," Barrett told Walker. "And you know that's false. You know that's false. You tell me whether you think I had anything to do with that. I'll tell you right now, I had nothing to do with that."
"The violent crime has not gone down," Walker insisted. "And I think if was worthy to say that people should vote for you because it had gone down, the same question is completely legitimate in reverse. Violent crime has gone up [in Milwaukee]."
"Homicides: 122 average, down to eight," Barrett said, defending his record. "Auto thefts: down."
"I have a police department that arrests felons, he has a practice of hiring them."