Reporter: White House Aide Told Me Not To Talk To Crowd At Michelle Obama Campaign Event

HUDSON, Wis. (CBSDC/AP) — Wisconsin’s tense race for governor got some political star power Monday, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie urging Republicans to step up their support for a potential presidential rival, Scott Walker. First lady Michelle Obama, meanwhile, campaigned for former state commerce secretary Mary Burke.

Christie and Walker sidestepped any talk of a 2016 nomination fight against each other.

“He would do good at any executive position he wanted to pursue,” Christie said of Walker. “I know this much — because I’ve spoken to him about it — he’s not interested in anything beyond November 4th and neither am I. Whatever happens beyond November 4th will be decisions that he’ll make about his future and anyone else considering it will make about theirs.”

“It’s my plan, if the voters will have me, to be governor for the next four years,” Walker said as the two stood side-by-side on a factory floor.

Walker is in a tough re-election campaign against Burke, a former Trek Bicycle executive and state commerce secretary.

First lady Michelle Obama appeared with Burke later Monday in Milwaukee, praising her for starting a program to help students get to college, before recalling the challenges President Barack Obama faced when he took office. The crowd cheered as Mrs. Obama talked about restoring the economy and overhauling the health care system.

“She is smart, she is in this for the right reasons, she cares about people, she doesn’t care about politics,” Obamas aid of Burke, who has no kids and worked with the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County. “She has been such a passionate champion for our kids and families here in Wisconsin.”

Meg Kissinger, a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, posted on Facebook that she was told by a White House aide that she was not allowed to talk to people in the crowd.

“[A]ssigned to cover Michelle Obama’s speech today and was told by a Mary Burke aide and one for the White House that I could not speak to the people in the crowd. To say that I was creeped out is an understatement. This is what reporters do in America: we speak to people,” Kissinger posted. “At least that’s how I’ve been doing things — at all kinds of political events — since 1979.”

Kissinger wrote that reporters and photographers were cordoned off during the event.

“Reporters and photographers were cordoned off in a central area with chairs and tables. Several people in the crowd asked if they could have extra chairs reserved for the media — but reporters were initially forbidden from handing them over. Eventually, some of the Burke staff gave the extra chairs to attendees,” Kissinger reported.

In two western Wisconsin appearances, Christie held Walker up as someone with both honesty and integrity. He contrasted that with Burke who is being criticized by Walker and Republicans as a plagiarist for having language and ideas in her jobs plan also used by four other Democratic gubernatorial candidates.

Burke blamed a consultant who worked for all of the campaigns and cut ties with him.

“If you can’t trust her honesty and her integrity when she tells you this is her plan, why would you trust her on anything else she tells you about what she’ll do for Wisconsin or Scott’s record?” Christie said at a local Republican Party headquarters.

Burke addressed the plagiarism allegations only indirectly while criticizing Walker for failing to fulfill his jobs promise from his first campaign.

“It doesn’t matter where ideas come from, whether they’re Democratic or Republican, just whether they’re going to get results,” she told hundreds of Democratic voters.

Christie told ardent Republicans they need to step up despite fatigue from three Walker races in four years, saying Democrats desperately want “to make an example of him” and cause other GOP politicians to be timid.

“There are a whole bunch of politicians probably hoping he loses so they don’t have to measure up to a new bar,” said retired salesman Tom Coulter, a Walker supporter who moved last year from Minneapolis to Wisconsin. “A whole lot of them like to coast.”

The most recent Marquette University Law School poll released two weeks ago showed Walker and Burke running about even. A new poll was to be released on Wednesday.

Voters in Milwaukee said they already planned to support Burke and the first lady’s appearance was just a bonus.

Victor Thomas, 24, of Milwaukee, wore a T-shirt bearing President Barack Obama’s image. He said he was aware of the plagiarism allegations against Burke, but wasn’t influenced by them.

“I still feel like she will be a great governor,” Thomas said. “I didn’t really care for Gov. Scott Walker.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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