Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch appeared Monday on the American Family Association (AFA) radio network with host Sandy Rios. AFA, which has been classified a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, recently added Rios to its lineup.
Rios gained notoriety early last month when an incredulous Bill O’Reilly suggested she was engaging in McCarthyism for calling on J.C. Penney to fire Ellen DeGeneres because she’s gay. Earlier she wrote that accepting Ellen would lead to “the complete eradication of the traditional family and the acceptance of any sexual choice anyone wants to make.” This month she lamented that “the Jewish vote in this country is so confused” and said that secular Jews have been some of “the worst enemies of the country.”
This kind of thing is nothing new for Rios, as Kleefisch had to know. Last year, debating the Obama administration contraceptives mandate, Rios equated birth control and abuse counseling with pedicures and manicures. She also compared unions and the Obama campaign to a terrorist group, writing that “Organizing for America, the SEIU, the NEA and many of America’s labor unions have … more in common with the violence and intimidation of Hamas than with protecting ‘workers.’”
Rios, introducing Kleefisch, spoke of her Chicago roots and fondness for Wisconsin. Then, wasting no time, she began attacking Wisconsin workers and students:
You probably saw it every night on your television. You saw union members holding out in the state capitol. You actually saw them trash the state capitol. It was just an amazing thing. Playing music, there’s nothing wrong with music. It was just strange behavior. They even got out from school to do this. […]
They were furious. As a matter of fact, they took some steps. They threatened State Senator Dan Kapanke with recall, they did recall him. They staged protests outside of his home. They issued death threats. They sent his wife disgusting letters in the mail. They spread nails and glass all over his driveway, and they managed to get him out of office.
Following that introduction, Kleefisch gave an update on the recall effort and echoed Rios on how mean and nasty the union supporters were. Both used the despicable actions of a few to tarnish a broad-based citizen movement:
Folks spent their entire winters collecting these signatures in hopes of recalling us, essentially trying to remake a decision that the majority of voters in Wisconsin just made in fall of 2010. And voters overwhelmingly elected the governor and me because we said we’d do a budget without raising taxes. And in 2008, the Great Recession hit Wisconsin hard. People are still being pinched by it, and that’s why there was this desperate need to do a budget without raising taxes.
Well, the result of that is what you’ve spent the last couple minutes describing. We all got death threats, and our capitol was trashed. People were intimidated right and left. It was scary times. Even my little kids were scared to go to the capitol. People would shout at them, and you know, it’s kinda creepy when you work in a situation like that.
Kleefisch mostly let Rios do the dirty work for her, like in this exchange:
Rios: I’ll try to be clearer now about what this means. Basically unions in all of the states have been able to, through their union leadership, have been able to raise their salaries, their pensions just on and on, and their benefits without any kind of restraint.
Kleefisch: Well, that’s what’s called collective bargaining. And so we’ve put some restrictions on collective bargaining.
Rios sounded the alarm that “union folk from Chicago are flooding” into Wisconsin, with the backing of the Obama administration, to throw the election. Kleefisch, however, expressed confidence in her prospects, saying “I think we’re gonna win. I think we’re gonna win because if you go to the ballot box, and you vote on the facts, then you vote for us every time. Because the facts are, it worked.”
As Kleefisch noted repeatedly during the interview, Wisconsin is very purple state. It’s unclear, then, why she thinks appearing on a right-wing show with a notorious host will help her prospects.