With only two on stage during the PBS Democratic debate on Thursday, there was bound to be some name-dropping. And one of the candidates thought there would be no one better to bring into the conversation than the governor of the very state where the debate was being held. During the sixth Democratic showdown, Hillary Clinton went after both Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and opposing candidate Bernie Sanders with this one fierce line, and the Milwaukee audience appeared to totally agree.
The debate topic was Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' plan to eliminate costs for higher education. Well, actually, the question to the candidates was about the projected costs of government expansion should they make it to the White House, but does anyone ever really remember what the moderators ask anyway? With Sanders' education plan in the hot seat, Clinton saw the perfect opportunity to make the unlikelihood of free college education seem quite real for Wisconsin residents:
Sen. Sanders' plan really rests on making sure that governors like Scott Walker contribute $23 billion on the first day to make college free. I'm a little skeptical about your governor actually caring enough about higher education to make any kind of commitment like that.
And the folks sitting before the debate stage didn't hate the comment. At the mention of the words "skeptical" and "Scott Walker" in the same sentence, the audience at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee kind of went wild. Clinton received enthusiastic cheers and applause after introducing the idea that the state's governor likely doesn't care too much about making higher education free for Americans.
This wasn't Clinton's first dig at the Wisconsin governor's decisions related to university costs. In August, Clinton told an audience at a New Hampshire community college that Walker "delight[ed] in slashing the investment in higher education in his state and [made] it more difficult for students to get scholarships or to pay off their debt." A month earlier, Walker signed a state budget that would cut $250 million in funding for the University of Wisconsin higher education system.
Unfortunately for Sanders, the audience didn't give him the same kind of love when he was given the opportunity to make a brief rebuttal. The Vermont senator didn't sneak the name "Scott Walker" into his response, though — apparently a critical mistake for anyone looking to get positive reaction from an entirely Democratic audience in the Badger State.