Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Monday praised Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker as a "real champion."
Campaigning with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) in Green Bay, the candidate told a group of supporters that Wisconsin's anti-union governor had encouraged him to share a story about the time he chose an Hispanic American to sit next to former Vice President Dick Cheney at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
"I got an email from the governor, who's a real champion, by the way," Romney explained, drawing cheers from the conservative crowd. "Your governor is a real fighter, great leader."
"And I got a chance to speak at a Lincoln Day dinner and I told an experience of mine from the Olympics. And he sent me an email and said, you ought to do that more often."
The former Massachusetts governor went on to recall that speedskater Derek Parra told him how moving it was to get to carry the American flag that had flown above the World Trade Center on 9/11 at the Olympics Games.
"Despite all of our talk about the challenges we face -- and there are enormous challenges -- I have a lot of confidence in our future," Romney remarked. "I am more optimistic, not less, by virtue of having gone around the country and had to chance to speak with the families of America."
"We're a nation that loves this country. The people of America understand what is unique about this nation. I've said that we've always been able to walk a little taller and stand a little straighter because we know we have a gift that no one else in the world has: We're America."
Last week, Romney's campaign said their candidate stands with Walker, who is facing a recall election after he forced through legislation that stripped most public sector employees of collective bargaining rights.
Throughout his campaign, Romney has repeatedly claimed that labor unions "too often stand as obstacles to growth and fight against the workers they are supposed to serve."
"Workers should have the right to form unions, but unions should not be forced upon them," he said in Appleton, Wisconsin on Friday. “And unions should not have the power to take money out of their members’ paychecks to buy the support of politicians favored by the union bosses.”
Romney spokesman Ryan Williams told The Hill that the tough stand on labor unions would continue through November.
"He’s going to continue to run on this message in the general election," Williams insisted. "This is what his campaign is about: making difficult decisions in order to preserve America’s promise."
In a shocking survey released on Monday, the conservative polling company Rasmussen Reports found that 52 percent of Wisconsin voters would like to see Walker recalled in the June 5 election.
Watch the video below from CNN, broadcast on April 2, 2012.