'Time for him to go': Ron Johnson says he won’t fight for Wisconsin jobs

'Time for him to go': Ron Johnson says he won’t fight for Wisconsin jobs
Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C., Gage Skidmore

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson faced a torrent of backlash over the weekend for publicly admitting that he won't pressure a Wisconsin manufacturer to locate around 1,000 new jobs in his home state rather than in South Carolina, which has some of the most anti-union labor laws in the nation.

"It's not like we don't have enough jobs here in Wisconsin," Johnson said Saturday, a line that's almost certain to become Democratic Party ad material as the two-term Republican senator campaigns for reelection in the crucial battleground state.

"I wouldn't insert myself to demand that anything be manufactured here using federal funds in Wisconsin," Johnson told reporters when asked about the U.S. Postal Service's 10-year contract with Oshkosh Defense, the Wisconsin-based company that USPS tapped to produce its "Next Generation Delivery Vehicle."

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, one of several Democrats running for Johnson's seat, called the Republican senator's remarks "outrageous" and argued it is "time for him to go."

"This is absurd," Barnes wrote in a Twitter post on Sunday. "Ron Johnson just said he wouldn't lift a finger to make sure the new USPS truck is built here in Wisconsin. In Oshkosh, where he's from!"

Watch Johnson's comments:

On top of environmentalists' warnings about the climate impact of the USPS contract—which is for the production of a fleet of largely gasoline-powered vehicles—labor advocates and Wisconsinites have voiced outrage over Oshkosh Defense's plan to manufacture the postal delivery trucks with non-union labor in South Carolina.

Oshkosh Defense employees represented by the United Auto Workers are pressuring the company to reverse its decision, but Johnson indicated Saturday that he views South Carolina's anti-union laws as a positive.

"In the end, I think when using federal tax dollars, you want to spend those in the most efficient way and if it's more efficient, more effective to spend those in other states, I don't have a real problem with that," said the senator.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) tweeted in response to Johnson that "it's my job to support job creation in Wisconsin and I want the trucks built here."

"To me, it's simple—I want Oshkosh Defense to manufacture trucks in Oshkosh with Wisconsin workers," Baldwin wrote.

Randy Bryce, a former U.S. House candidate in Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District, also weighed in, asking, "Don't electeds usually try to get more jobs for their constituents?"

"Not if your name is Ron Johnson," Bryce added.

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