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Reality Check: Walker Ad Attacks Obama, Rail Line

Published On: Aug 19 2010 07:21:37 AM CDT   Updated On: Aug 19 2010 07:41:42 AM CDT

The ad wars for the Wisconsin governor's race are in full swing, and one candidate is not only going after his opponent but also the president.

In what some are calling the most "anti-Obama" ad yet, Republican candidate for governor Scott Walker uses the president's words on other topics to argue with him over a high-speed train.

"Make no mistake," says the clip of Obama.

"We're trying not to, but you President Obama and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett are trying to spend $810 million to build a high-speed train line between Milwaukee and Madison," said Walker in the ad.

The president isn't just trying to spend the money on a train, he's already spending it. Gov. Jim Doyle and the U.S. secretary of transportation recently signed agreements for more than $50 million to start work on the line. Barrett is supportive of the effort.

"Let me be clear," says Obama in the clip.

"No, let me be clear. I'd rather take that money and fix Wisconsin's crumbling roads and bridges," says Walker in the ad.

WISC-TV found this is misleading. This money is earmarked for rail spending only, so unless federal action is taken the money can't be spent on roads and bridges. Walker said if that's the case, he would instead give the money back to the federal government.

"This isn't about me," says Obama in the ad.

"You're right. It's about Wisconsin's hardworking families who are going to have to pick up the tab," says Walker in the ad. "They're going to have to spend up to $10 million a year just to keep a train running they may not ever ride."

WISC-TV found that this needs clarification.

First, the state would subsidize Amtrak's operating costs for the line, but the Wisconsin Fiscal Bureau estimates it would cost $7.5 million, not $10 million. Taxpayers are already spending about $6 million a year on the Hiawatha line, which is the same rail line connecting Milwaukee to Chicago, WISC-TV reported.

"I'm Scott Walker, and if I'm elected as your next governor we'll stop this train," Walker says in the ad. "Working together we can help put the government back on the side of the people again."

The ad ends with an Obama quote of, "Yes we can," and Walker shrugging skeptically.

But can he really stop the train? While Walker is claiming he can, he has not said how he would do it or what he is willing to sacrifice.

Any federal money spent on the project, which could be anywhere from $60 million to $100 million by January, would have to be paid back to the government, and that would blow a large a hole in a new governor's state budget.

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