MILWAUKEE -

Former President Bill Clinton is rallying Democrats in Milwaukee on behalf of the city's mayor, Tom Barrett, who's locked in a close race with Republican Gov. Scott Walker in a nationally-watched recall election.

Clinton told the crowd at a downtown riverfront park Friday that Tuesday's election is about much more than the state of Wisconsin and what's best for its residents.

He said people nationwide are looking to Wisconsin as an American battleground.

Clinton said states that are recovering economically have embraced "creative cooperation," not "constant conflict" -- a reference to Walker's move to eliminate collective bargaining for most public employees.

Clinton said this historic recall election isn't just about the future of Wisconsin. He said it's about restoring the state to its former position of prosperity and pride among the rest of the country.

"If you want Wisconsin once again to be seen by all of America as a place of diversity, of difference of opinion, of vigorous debate, where in the end people's objective is to come to an agreement that will take us all forward together, you have to show up and vote for Tom Barrett on Tuesday," he said.

Clinton pointed out Barrett's record on education and job creation, saying he has the best plan to move the state forward.
Walker is campaigning Friday with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. She calls herself a "union buster" and considers her state's low union membership rate an economic development tool.

Clinton's visit Friday on behalf of Barrett marks the latest in a string of high-profile Democrats who have campaigned on his behalf in recent days. President Barack Obama hasn't gotten publicly involved in the recall.

The recall was spurred by Walker's proposal last year that effectively ended collective bargaining rights for most state workers.