Presidential visit to Milwaukee: What it means to the race for governor

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The biggest name in American politics will make a key stop in Milwaukee on Monday, September 1st -- against the backdrop of a contentious campaign. Pres. Barack Obama will be the headline speaker at this year's Laborfest.

The president's job performance is low in Wisconsin. In fact, 50 percent of registered voters disapprove of it, according to the latest Marquette University Law School poll. Still, the president's visit is intended to bolster a labor movement in this state that has taken some big hits during Gov. Scott Walker's tenure.

Pres. Obama last spoke at Milwaukee's Laborfest in 2010 -- before Gov. Walker's election and while the country was still feeling the recession.

"I am going to keep fighting every single day, every single hour, every single day to turn this economy around and put people back to work," the president said in 2010.

This year, the visit is an "official" White House event, not a campaign stop. Because of that, the Mary Burke campaign said in a statement, "Her participation in the public portion of events would not be appropriate. Mary will meet privately with the President during his visit, and hopes to have him back in Wisconsin for a campaign event before Election Day."

That brought immediate criticism from Gov. Walker's campaign in the following statement: "Mary Burke is willing to meet with President Obama in private but she refuses to campaign with him in public? Burke can offer up excuses and try to hide from President Obama and his rotten approval ratings, but she can't hide from the fact that her and the president's failed economic policies are one and the same."

The presidential visit again puts the spotlight on tensions between labor and the governor -- which flared in 2011.

The latest Marquette University Law School poll shows the state is still split over Act 10 -- with 46 percent saying the law should stay as is -- and 44 percent saying collective bargaining should be returned to public workers.

Burke did not attend the president's last visit to the area, claiming she had a full schedule. But the president's visit to Laborfest underscores the focus on the gubernatorial campaign's top issue: jobs.

"I can lead us to have a top ten thriving economy and right now we're dead last in the Midwest in terms of jobs," said Burke.

"People are better off, and they'll be much better off on jobs and the economy," said Gov. Walker.

The president's brief stop in Wisconsin will be brief. He's scheduled to land in Milwaukee Monday afternoon and be back on his plane in less than two hours.