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Friday, January 30, 2015

 9:39 AM 

PPP survey has Walker in top tier of GOP contenders

A new survey out today from the Dem firm Public Policy Polling has Gov. Scott Walker in the top tier of GOP candidates for president.

The poll found 21 percent of GOP primary votes backed Mitt Romney, while 17 percent favored Jeb Bush and 15 percent backed Ben Carson. Walker was in fourth at 11 percent, followed closely by Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee at 9 percent each.

PPP called Walker the "biggest winner" in the poll, saying the 11 percent appears to be the first time he's registered in double digits for a national poll. He also had the lowest name recognition of the candidates PPP tested, suggesting he has room to grow. 

The poll went into the field before Walker spoke on Saturday to a gathering of Iowa conservatives and finished the day after. The reception to his speech has generated significant buzz nationally since then.

The firm conducted the poll of 400 GOP primary voters Jan. 22-25. Eighty percent of the interviews were done over the phone with 20 percent over the Internet to reach those who don't have land lines. The margin of error for the GOP primary question was plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

See the release.

UPDATE: Since the poll's release, Romney has announced he will not run for president in 2016. With him out of the mix, the GOP primary looks like this: Bush 21 percent, Carson 16 percent, Walker 14 percent, Huckabee 12 percent and Cruz 10 percent.

-- By JR Ross

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

 4:13 PM 

Walker's 527 posts two-minute video

Gov. Scott Walker’s 527 released a two-minute video in which the narrator says the solutions to the nation’s problems will come from “those incubators of reform, the states.”

The video opens with the narrator saying the nation stands on the brink and is adrift with family incomes declining, dreams stifled and a foreign policy that “apologizes for America,” while projecting weakness abroad.

The narrator goes on to say the country must turn to the states to “reclaim our destiny.”

It closes by using clips of Walker from a speech.

“Those groups in Washington, they tend to measure success by how many people are dependent upon the government,” Walker says as video of President Obama and Hillary Clinton is shown. “We measure success by how many people are no longer dependent on the government.”

-- By JR Ross


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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

 12:23 PM 

Walker announces 527 as he considers presidential bid

Gov. Scott Walker today announced the creation of "Our American Revival," a 527 group that will communicate his vision as he looks at a presidential bid.

Walker said operative Rick Wiley, who the guv has brought onto his campaign as an adviser, will serve as the group's executive director.

"Our American Revival encompasses the shared values that make our country great;
limiting the powers of the federal government to those defined in the Constitution while
creating a leaner, more efficient, more effective and more accountable government to
the American people,” Walker said in the announcement.

Along with creating the group, Walker's campaign launched the website http://OurAmericanRevival.com.

-- By JR Ross

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

 1:27 PM 

Walker tells conservatives Republicans can win if they go big, bold

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

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

 5:33 PM 

Walker to visit New Hampshire in March

Gov. Scott Walker will travel to New Hampshire in mid-March to address the Granite State's Republican party, his campaign said.

Walker will keynote the party's Grassroots Training and Rally March 14.

"We have enacted bold, successful reforms in Wisconsin and we have a great story to tell," Walker said in a statement released through the New Hampshire GOP. "I look forward to sharing our common sense conservative message with grassroots activists, and I thank the New Hampshire GOP for this exciting opportunity."

It's the latest addition to a series of speeches Walker is giving out-of-state as he considers a presidential run.

See the New Hampshire GOP release

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

 6:33 PM 

Walker plans Israel trip in 2015

Gov. Scott Walker, who's gearing up for an expected presidential bid, said he plans to visit Israel later this year.

Walker said he has had multiple requests to go to Israel from the general counsel's office within the last four years to talk about water technology and other trade missions.

While Walker hasn't yet set a date, he said he'll "probably find a way" to make the trip to Israel.

Any overseas trip Walker takes this year would likely be viewed as an effort to help bolster his foreign policy credentials as part of a presidential run.

Also, Walker's campaign confirmed today he will speak this weekend before the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce in California.

The group is a nonprofit group that oversees the network of conservative groups organizations linked to the Koch brothers and their associates.

Walker will also address the Iowa Freedom Summit on Saturday in Des Moines.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

 1:50 PM 

Wisconsin to host GOP presidential primary debate in November

Wisconsin will host one of nine GOP-sanctioned presidential primary debates, the national party announced today.

The debate is planned for November with Fox Business as the broadcast partner. The RNC did not release any other details on the debate.

The first of the nine is slated for August in Ohio with the ninth announced today planned for Florida in February 2016. The RNC said three other debates are planned, two of them in March 2016 and one with a date and location to be determined.

See the press release for details


Thursday, January 15, 2015

 4:30 PM 

Walker says GOP needs 'fresh face' in prez race

Gov. Scott Walker, who's expected to make a run for president in 2016, said while Mitt Romney would have been a good president, "I think it's pretty hard to make an argument about going forward when you're arguing about people and ideas from the past."

The best way to counter who he said was a likely Dem nominee in Hillary Clinton, "is to have a fresh face with new ideas to move the party and ultimately, the country, forward."

Walker also described what he would say before the RNC's meeting in California tonight.

"We're going to talk about the fact that I think the party and the country need fresh, new ideas," Walker said. "And they need to have people who are not just talking about it but actually have a record of accomplishing common-sense conservative ideals that are not only good for the party, but ultimately good for moving this country forward."

Walker said he isn't concerned that a lawsuit the state joined against President Obama's executive actions on immigration will hurt support for Republicans within the Hispanic community.

"I think voters, no matter what their ethnic background, understand and respect the fact that the law is the law and no one person in this country is above the law," Walker said.

Meanwhile, Walker has added two more national speaking engagements to his upcoming calendar as he weighs a presidential bid.

He will address the American Action Forum Jan. 30 in Washington, D.C., about a week after he addresses the Iowa Freedom Summit.

Walker's campaign also confirmed today he'll speak to the Conservative Political Action Committee Feb. 25 in Washington, D.C. Walker has addressed the group before, and it's one of several events considered key for any Republican running for president.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

 9:28 AM 

Walker's State of the State includes national references

With a possible presidential bid on the horizon, Gov. Scott Walker's State of the State speech included a series of references to Washington, D.C., that some will view through the prism of his future aspirations.

He closed the speech with a call to stand unified following a terrorist attack in France last week, saying those who carried it out are cowards. Walker said they feared the freedoms of press, speech and religion.

Walker's call to stand together and denounce "those who wish to threaten freedom anywhere in this world" drew the longest reaction of the night with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle standing to applaud.

"We need to proclaim that an attack against freedom-loving people anywhere is an attack against us all, and we will not allow it," Walker said. "When we take a stand, we will make it easier to work for freedom and prosperity right here in Wisconsin."

See more from Walker's State of the State speech

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

 10:02 AM 

Ryan not running for president in 2016

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan is passing on a run for the presidency in 2016, saying his work as Ways and Means chair deserves his undivided attention.

Insiders have speculated for weeks that Ryan would not run after taking over as chair of the Ways and Means Committee, where he will have the opportunity to shape national debate on issues that range from the tax code to Social Security.

"It's clear our country needs a change in direction. And our party has a responsibility to offer a real alternative," Ryan said in a statement. "So I'm going to do what I can to lay out conservative solutions and to help our nominee lead us to victory."

Ryan told NBC News that he made the decision weeks ago and was at peace with it. Ryan, who turns 45 later this month, did not rule out a future bid in the interview and declined to endorse anyone.

"I think we've got a number of very capable candidates who have every ability to become president. There are a lot of talented people," he told the network. "I think it is critical that our party puts forward bold, conservative ideas and give people a choice. I think we have a number of capable leaders who can do that."

Insiders have also long speculated that it was unlikely Ryan and Gov. Scott Walker would both run for president. The guv, who has been ramping up his operation for an expected bid, praised Ryan today.

"There are two kinds of people in politics: Those who want to be someone great, and those who want to do something great," Walker said through his campaign. "Paul is in the latter group, and although he will not be seeking the presidency, the American people will continue to benefit greatly from his leadership in the House."


Friday, January 9, 2015

 6:26 PM 

Wiley's work with Walker campaign began weeks ago, sources say

On the surface, it looks like Gov. Scott Walker's possible presidential campaign has suddenly exploded to life.

The reality, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the developments, is the process began shortly after Walker secured re-election in November and has been gradually building since.

Walker is continuing to make moves to position himself for a bid. The sources told WisPolitics.com that Walker will address the RNC on Thursday as it meets in San Diego to re-elect Chair Reince Priebus, the former chair of the Wisconsin Republican Party. One source added Walker was expected to meet with delegations from key early states in the presidential primary process.

Walker's campaign confirmed he would be in San Diego for the meeting, but declined further comment.

Though the news that Walker has brought on former state GOP exec Rick Wiley to help build his political operation broke this week, the sources said Walker's campaign first reached out to the operative shortly after his November victory.

By mid-December, Wiley was working the phones, talking to possible additions to Walker's campaign. Before Christmas, he was feeling out Walker's gubernatorial campaign staffers in Wisconsin on whether they wanted to stick around if the guv ran for president. Staffers were asked where they saw themselves in a possible presidential campaign and told to take the holidays to think things over.

It is yet to be determined how some of Walker's Wisconsin staffers will be slotted in the new operation, and outside additions are expected soon, the sources said.

"Wiley is going to be in charge of figuring out what's the right structure and what's the best way to integrate people," said one source with knowledge of the campaign's thinking.

Wiley, an Illinois native, first landed in Wisconsin politics working for then-state Rep. Gene Hahn. Wiley later spent six years working for the state GOP, leaving his position as executive director to join Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign. He later joined the RNC, where he spent two years as political director, and went to Mercury Public Affairs in 2013. He spent last fall working on Senate campaigns, including Republican Joni Ernst's winning effort in Iowa.

See more on Wiley

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

 6:24 PM 

Walker to attend Iowa event with other prez hopefuls

Gov. Scott Walker will attend an event in Iowa later this month hosted by conservative U.S. Rep. Steve King.

King's event has been seen by many as a key event in the run up to next year's presidential caucus.

"Governor Walker looks forward to sharing the story of Wisconsin's successful reforms and common-sense message with grassroots conservatives," Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said of the Jan. 24 Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines.

Others scheduled to attend the event, which is co-hosted by Citizens United, include: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Walker's confirmation that he'll attend the event comes on the heels of reports that he has brought on operative Rick Wiley to help build out his campaign operation for a possible presidential bid.

See more on the summit

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 5:11 PM 

Walker: Wiley a 'senior adviser,' not campaign director

Gov. Scott Walker today acknowledged he has hired national GOP consultant Rick Wiley as a campaign adviser, but he declined to call Wiley his presidential campaign director. He also said there have been no additional campaign hires, though there may be more in coming weeks.

"Wiley's a senior adviser right now," said Walker, who's considered a likely candidate for president in 2016. As he moves closer to making a decision, Walker said he wanted someone with Wisconsin connections on his team.

"We wanted someone we could trust who has national experience and to help us figure out if people who are reaching out to us are legitimate, but that's only one part of the overall process.

"You have to put in the right people to advise you, you don't just go in half-way. It's not something you back into you. You should have your eyes fully wide open. If I were to run, I wouldn't run just for the sake of running, it would be because I thought I had something unique to offer the American people, that I could do good for this country and I'd run with the full intention of winning."

Speaking to reporters after a talk at the Wisconsin Bankers Association Economic Forecast luncheon in Madison, Walker said he would decide if he will set up a leadership PAC, as some other potential president candidates have done.

If he runs, Walker said he will be making many trips to Iowa and other early caucus and primary states. He said he'll speak there next month a conference with other GOP presidential hopefuls and "it will be one more opportunity to share our vision and to see if it matches the interest in a state like Iowa."

He also said he's praying over the decision, as he has done with every other major choice in his life. "I've tried to discern God's calling, and that is part of this process," said Walker, the son of a minister.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

 3:22 PM 

Wiley joins Walker's team to explore prez run

Scott Walker has brought on veteran operative Rick Wiley as he contemplates a run for the presidency, according to a source close to the guv.

"He is someone that is helping the governor put together the organization and help him as he comes to a decision on whether or not he decides to run," said the source.

The Illinois native first landed in Wisconsin politics working for then-state Rep. Gene Hahn. Wiley later spent six years working for the state GOP, leaving his position as executive director to join Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign. He later joined the RNC, where he spent two years as political director, and went to Mercury Public Affairs in 2013. He spent last fall working on Senate campaigns, including Republican Joni Ernst's winning effort in Iowa.

GOP sources have said Walker's team has been reaching out to national operatives in recent weeks to prepare for a possible presidential run. A regular theme in speculation about Walker's possible run is that he would have to go beyond the Wisconsin-based operatives who have been his key advisers if he wants to compete on the national stage.

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