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Monday, July 13, 2015

 5:50 PM 

Walker promises to be a 'fighter' as he formally kicks off presidential campaign

WAUKESHA -- Gov. Scott Walker formally kicked off his long-anticipated campaign for the presidency today, promising to take nationwide his battles in Wisconsin fighting unions and other “big-government special interests.”

Walker also pledged to take the fight to those who threaten America’s safety around the globe and to stand up for the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, religious freedoms, and for the “healthy or sick, born or unborn.”

“Americans deserve a president who will fight and win for them,” Walker declared during a rally at the Waukesha County Expo Center.

The line echoed a theme Walker, 47, has used recently to differentiate himself from other GOP contenders in an increasingly crowded field. Though Walker is now the 15th Republican to formally declare a run for the party’s presidential nomination, he has said some in the field have been good fighters but haven't won big battles, while others have won elections but haven't consistently taken on the big issues.

He addressed backers in the same building where he celebrated his June 2012 successful defeat of a recall attempt, an event that propelled him to national political prominence.

The governor reminded the crowd of his efforts to strip public employees in Wisconsin of most of their collective bargaining powers, a move that sparked the attempt to recall him.

And he sought to provide a sharp contrast to President Obama.

He pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act and “out-of-control regulations that are like a wet blanket on the economy.” Walker also promised an “all-of-the-above" energy policy that includes approving the Keystone pipeline. He said he would push “power and money out of Washington and send it to our states and our schools” while lowering taxes.

To underscore his message on taxes, Walker recounted his shopping habits at Kohl’s -- a favorite line on the campaign trail -- but with a twist. As he often does, the governor said the company can thrive while offering customers deep discounts on its merchandise because of the volume it sells. Walker argued the government should take the same approach by broadening the base and increasing the number of people participating in the economy.

Walker said that kind of plan, based on an idea called the Laffer Curve, worked under President Reagan.

“Today, I call it the ‘Kohl's Curve’ because I believe that you can spend your money far better than the government, and when we do, the economy will get a whole lot better,” he said.

Walker also emphasized national security. He recounted as a child tying ribbons around the tree in front of his house during the 444 days 52 Americans were held hostage in Iran. That group included Kevin Hermening, who grew up in Oak Creek and was in attendance.

“Kevin knows that Iran is not a place to do business with,” Walker said, promising to terminate a deal the Obama administration has been working on with Iranian leaders.

Instead, Walker pledged to use “crippling economic sanctions” and to persuade American allies to do the same. He also promised tough actions on Russia and China and to “start treating Israel like an ally.”

“The world must know that there is no greater friend and no worse enemy than the United States of America,” Walker said, prompting chants of "U.S.A!"

See Walker's prepared remarks.

-- By Staff

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