• With: Wis. Gov. Scott Walker and Mahlon Mitchell

    You know, that's been hard to recover from because I think a lot of people bought into that. Over time, as people see, as the Milwaukee paper said here not long ago, the sky's not falling, when they see that our schools, including the public schools my kids go to, many of them across the state are the same or better than they were before, when they see that local governments were the same or better, when they saw their property taxes go down from the school tax levees for the first time in about a half a decade last year, I think people see that results trump all the attacks, all the -- the uncivility that was going on. And my hope is between now and the election, that'll happen.

    But this is -- as you know, 52 percent is a big win in the state of Wisconsin. And so for us just to get 50 plus 1 is ultimately what we're aiming for.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Well, they certainly have a large number of people who signed that petition. I mean...

    WALKER: They had a million. Although, again, you look at, just like in the senate recalls, significant number of those people are people who've never voted before. In our state, to sign a recall, you don't actually have to be a registered voter, you just have to be eligible to vote, which means you're 18, not a felon and you've lived in the state for at least 28 days.

    So a lot of people on there haven't voted in the past and may very well not vote this year. But again, it does show a pretty good base of support upon which to begin with.

    I just think when you get the truth out, when you compare and say, Do we want to go back to the days of the double-digit tax increases, the billion-dollar budget deficits and the record job loss, or do we want to build off the positive foundation we built for the state and really move Wisconsin towards greater freedom and prosperity, I think people want to go that route.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, if you'll just stay with us for a second because we're going to go now to the other side of the recall fight.

    Firefighter and union leader Mahlon Mitchell calls Wisconsin's political climate an emergency, and just today Mitchell announcing he will run as a Democrat for lieutenant governor in the recall election. We spoke with Mahlon Mitchell earlier tonight.

    (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

    VAN SUSTEREN: It's a great day because today, for you, you made an announcement.

    MAHLON MITCHELL, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR WISCONSIN LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: I did. I announced at 10:30 this morning that I was going to seek candidacy for lieutenant governor in the recall elections.

    VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Why not run for governor?

    MITCHELL: Well, that's a good question. I think now -- I've always said from the beginning that I'm going to do whatever it takes to move our state forward. And now is not my time to do that. I want to help any governor that comes out of the Democratic primary, and I want to move our message forward and I want to move our state forward.

    So whatever I can do to move that and make the message better, that's what I'm going do. So that's why I'm running for lieutenant governor.

    VAN SUSTEREN: What's wrong with the current lieutenant governor, the Republican lieutenant governor?

    MITCHELL: She's a rubber stamp. She's a rubber stamp for all of Governor Walker's policies, and we jut can't have that. We -- I was told this morning that one of -- Lieutenant Governor Kleefisch didn't know what Walker was going to do. I said, That's fine. Not knowing is one thing, but not reacting after knowing is another. And we need someone that's there not just as a rubber stamp but actually is going to fight for the middle class, the citizens of our state.

    VAN SUSTEREN: So if you differed with the governor -- let's say that you -- that you win -- you become the lieutenant governor. Let's assume that Governor Scott Walker loses to a Democratic governor. Are you going to you stand up to the Democratic governor if you disagree?

    MITCHELL: I will do that. I think there's a need to do that. I don't think this is a Democratic or Republican problem. This is a problem that we are seeing politicians not taking care of decent American values, and we got to get back to that. We got to get back to taking care of all citizens, not just a select few.

    VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, you are in -- you're the president of the firefighters, is that correct?

    MITCHELL: I am.

    VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Now, when Governor Walker first talked about changing collective bargaining, the Republican state party says that you came out and you cheered him on, you said that he was doing a good thing. And now there's a little turnaround. So What happened?

    MITCHELL: Well, I think the Republican Party is wrong, and that's not just for that reason. But I came out with a press release, not a personal letter to Scott Walker but a press release saying -- recognizing that Governor Walker for treating public safety as important and making governor -- public safety important in an election.

    Now in my fault and my chagrin, I did that before I actually learned the full ramifications of the bill. So I sent that press release out shortly after his press conference Friday afternoon. After really reading the bill and looking at the bill in its entirety, over the weekend talking to different local leaders and union leaders, I realized that we could not sit idly by and let this happen.

    So we were out on the first day of the protests. And people that want to judge me on one press release, also judge us on what we did for the next seven, eight months, and that was to fight back the draconian measures that the governor put in place.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Now, as I understand it, the measures the governor put into effect doesn't affect the firefighters or the police, is that correct, it's other state employees.

    MITCHELL: We're exempt from the changes.

    VAN SUSTEREN: OK. All right. Exactly what is it that -- what's been the impact of what he has enacted vis-a-vis those other state employees?

    MITCHELL: Well, it's taken away money in your paychecks. And state employees...

    VAN SUSTEREN: How much? Do you have any idea.

    MITCHELL: It's taken away between 8 and 10 percent money from people's paychecks a year. So if you're taking away $4,000 to $5,000 of income from people in a time where there's no doubt that the middle class needs more money in their pocket, it's hurting the state.

    And he says that these reforms are working, but we go back to not just the concessions but also trying to attack union rights and workers' rights. This is not something that he bargained on. This is not something he campaigned on.

    So we feel that in our state that we've been tricked. We've been fooled. We've been duped. We've been misled, and that's just wrong. And that's why you see the people fighting back.

    VAN SUSTEREN: How should he handle the shortfalls, or how would you handle the shortfalls in the budget?

    MITCHELL: Well, I think you got to bring people to the table and I think we got to negotiate.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Negotiate what, though?

    MITCHELL: Well...

    VAN SUSTEREN: Where are you going to get the money?

    MITCHELL: Well, for instance, Through collective bargaining. In the city where I live, in the city of Madison, we were able to negotiate through the collective bargaining process, police and firefighters coming to the table, giving concessions that saved the city over $4 million over two years. Now, that's through the city sitting down with the employees and doing what's best for the community, as well as the employees.

    So we were able to save money, to give concessions on health insurance and give concessions on the pension, and that's the way things work through collective bargaining.

    I think there's a misnomer about collective bargaining. It's not unions going to the table, pound their fists on the table, saying, We want these demands or we're going to strike. That's not quite how it works.