MADISON - Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Capitol Square yesterday in support of a petition drive to recall the governor.

Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold spoke, encouraging the crowd, but he reaffirmed his decision not to be a Democratic candidate to replace Governor Scott Walker. People demonstrating on the cool Saturday morning pointed to the loss of collective bargaining rights and cuts to medical assistance programs for the poor as being part of their reasoning for the recall. Petitions passers have to collect 540,000 signatures by January 17th. A spokesman for the governor says the only campaign Walker is focusing on is the one to help the private sector create a quarter-million new jobs.

In preparation for the recall, two conservative groups have bought more than a half-million dollars' worth of television ads to support budget proposals backed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. The ad campaign starts just a few days after the governor's opponents launched their effort to recall the Republican state leader. The Americans for Prosperity Foundation and the MacIver Institute are paying the bills. The ads are airing on television stations in Milwaukee, Green Bay, La Crosse and Wausau. The TV spot doesn't mention Governor Walker specifically by name. A spokesman for the group says the effort is to educate people on the benefits of budget reform.