Gov. Scott Walker told conservative activists in Iowa Saturday Republicans can win if they go “big and bold” like he did in Wisconsin, saying voters are willing to stand with those who show leadership.
Walker told the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines that Wisconsin saw record job losses before he was elected as families faced double-digit tax increases and special interests controlled things. But Walker said his reforms have made Wisconsin an even better place for his sons to grow up than it was for him.
“If you’re not afraid to go big and go bold, you can actually get results … and if you get the job done, the voters will actually stand up with you,” Walker said.
The governor, one of several presidential contenders who addressed the gathering of conservatives, recounted for activists the death threats he and his family faced over his proposal to largely eliminate collective bargaining for public employees and require them to pay more for their health care and retirements. He thanked them for the donations, help and prayers Walker said many of them sent his way during the protests and the ensuing attempt to recall him.
He also recounted his regular commutes between his home in Wauwatosa and the state Capitol at the time and how handmade signs proclaiming “We Stand With Walker” began showing up first in cornfields and then in places he’d never seen such signs before.
“People knew that we stood up against the powerful special interests and put the power back in their hands, and they thought if they had an elected official who was actually willing to stand up with them maybe it was about time they stood up and said 'we're going to stand with that candidate as well,'” Walker said. “That’s what we need in America.”
Walker was one of several possible 2016 presidential contenders to address the event in Des Moines and promised the crowd, “I’m going to come back many more times in the future.”
He several times reminded activists of his electability in places not normally friendly to GOP candidates. Walker said he pulled 60 percent of the vote in Milwaukee County in 2008 as he won re-election to the executive’s office in a place that later went two-thirds for Barack Obama. He also talked up his three wins in the past four years statewide in Wisconsin, which hasn’t gone for a GOP presidential candidate since 1984.
Walker knocked the media, saying they had only focused during his tenure on the protests over his collective bargaining changes without detailing his “commonsense conservative agenda.” He said he’s passed anti-abortion legislation, defunded Planned Parenthood, pulled back excessive regulations, enacted concealed carry, signed off on the so-called Castle Doctrine and cut taxes by $2 billion.
Walker also said a budget that had a $3.6 billion deficit when he took office is now balanced, though the state faces a shortfall this fiscal year and in the upcoming biennium. He added that “we require in our state by law a photo ID to vote,” though that requirement has not been enforced in any election since February 2012 because of court challenges.
He declared what he called the “Wisconsin Way” is working.
“If they can work in Wisconsin, they can work anywhere in the country,” Walker said.
Watch the speech
UPDATE: State Dem Chair Mike Tate slammed Walker's speech, saying the Walker who addressed the Iowa crowd sounded much different than the one who ran for re-election in Wisconsin last year. Tate said Walker downplayed issues such as abortion during the campaign and said Walker left out key details for the crowd such as the $2.2 billion deficit the state faces in the upcoming budget and the $283 million shortfall in the current fiscal year.
"Scott Walker can't credibly campaign for president on his ability to lead an 'American revival' when he can't balance the budget in Wisconsin, our wage and private sector job growth lags the nation, and our state has the worst fiscal reserves in the country," Tate said
-- By JR Ross