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On election day, Walker supports voter ID law
Gov. Scott Walker speaks after hosting a listening session for invited guests in Monroe on Tuesday afternoon. To order this photo, click here. (Times photo: Marissa Weiher)
MONROE - On Tuesday, as voters around the state cast their ballots in the primary election, Gov. Scott Walker supported requiring photo identification at the polls - despite court challenges the law continues to face.

Recent rulings have deemed pieces of the law unconstitutional, but during a stop in Monroe on Tuesday afternoon, Walker seemed unfazed by the law taking hits as long as its foundation remains in place.

Walker spoke to The Monroe Times after a private "listening session" in Monroe that his office said 35 to 50 invitees attended. The session was closed to the press and the general public.

"I still support Attorney General Brad Schimel going to court to try and make sure the law is fully in place," Walker told the Times. "But even if it is somewhat adjusted by those court rulings, I still think it's good to have a photo ID requirement."

All facets of the law were still in place during Tuesday's partisan primary. Walker said critics who oppose the law, citing it as a possible deterrent to lower income voters who typically vote Democratic, should look at the numbers and see that the Wisconsin presidential primary was the largest turnout since 1972.

The Republican governor said he endorsed Sen. Ron Johnson, who he described as "a small business guy who represents Wisconsin values" and, despite being in office for six years, is the opposite of Democratic opponent Russ Feingold. Walker said Feingold had "really morphed into Washington values instead of Wisconsin values."

At the presidential level, Walker, who himself launched an unsuccessful bid to become the Republican nominee, said he preferred his party's candidate over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and that the entire election has been a contrast to years before it.

"It's the most bizarre thing I've seen in my life," Walker said. "(Trump) wasn't my first choice, I was my first choice, and he wasn't my first choice here in Wisconsin."

However, Walker was unwilling to allow for the Democratic choice for president of the United States.

"I'll support Trump over Clinton just because I have serious problems with Clinton. She lied to the public, her private server probably put our national security at risk. She has yet to tell the American public whether or not any foreign interests gave money to the Clinton Foundation while she was Secretary of State. I look at those things and say, regardless of party, I think she's unfit to be president."

Walker said he had not yet read the economic plans unveiled by either candidate on Monday.

During the listening session, which Walker said included four local students, the school superintendent, the Green County sheriff, veterans, local farmers and other workers in the area, discussion was consistent with other counties he has encountered. So far, Green is the 54th county he has visited in his plan to hit all 72 for listening sessions. From investment in public infrastructure to available broadband internet and the affordability of education, Walker said he wrote down a number of comments.

The reason it was closed to the public, Walker said, was to ensure the comfort of attendees to speak on their concerns without cameras or members of the media.

Education was a focal point of his visit. Topics included the bolstering of schools and the affordability of higher education.

"Schools are kind of the centerpiece of small towns," Walker said. "Particularly in rural communities. How do we have good schools, but at the some token, how do we have good schools without blowing the lid off of property taxes? A lot of this is just all a matter of creating a balance."

The state budget begins with a $50 million increase to the University of Wisconsin System. Walker said lawmakers had discussed extending the tuition freeze because of residents' concerns regarding the cost of education, but also wanted to give more money with conditions placed on the schools. Performance measures would include how many students are enrolled, the number of graduates, how many students graduate on time and how many find employment in their area of study. The Regional Workforce Investment Boards throughout the state recommend the need for workers in specific areas of the state and a bonus would be provided for schools which encourage students to enter that area, such as manufacturing, teaching and information technology.

Critics have said Walker has done little for students who have taken on debt to attend a four-year institution, which he said is a "cruel irony that the very people who are claiming we're not doing enough to pay off loans are the people who helped all of those people get the big student loan debt in the first place."

A plan to reduce interest rates through a public/private partnership should be unveiled in the fall to help graduates deal with student debt, he added.