You know by now that Scott Walker has officially thrown his hat in the ring. We were there, as several thousand people, young and old and many in wheelchairs, waited over two hours on a sultry afternoon in the Waukesha County Exposition Center. We came to listen to the forty-fifth governor of Wisconsin bid to become the forty-fifth president of the United States; the Republican Party of Wisconsin received over five thousand RSVPs for the event.
The conservative and patriotic crowd waved American flags, and signs with the “e” in Walker’s name as an American flag — his campaign logo. They recited the Pledge of Allegiance, and in fervent voices sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.” It was a family and friends affair: Walker’s two young adult sons, Matt and Alex, took turns as master of ceremonies. They introduced speeches from long-time political associates, including the ebullient Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, Walker’s wife Tonette, and Walker’s father, a retired pastor, who led the invocation.
The first speaker was the fiery Rachel Campos-Duffy, wife of Republican Congressman Sean Duffy, who recounted Walker’s political zeal in traveling frequently to Ashland on the far Lake Superior shore. She said he was greeted every year by a new Duffy family addition (the proud mother of seven children, Rachel attributed this to those “long, cold Wisconsin winters”). She contrasted Scott Walker with putative Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton (“he loves riding around the state meeting people on his Harley-Davidson; she loves riding isolated in the back of her limousine”; “Scott and Tonette have been married twenty-four years; twenty-four is Bill Clinton’s favorite age”; and so on).
Mrs. Duffy was followed by state Senator Leah Vukmir of Wauwatosa, where the Walker family residence is located, who recounted how, as a young candidate for the Wisconsin State Assembly, Walker had taken only twenty minutes to change her mind into supporting him. Walker won that election and became her state representative. When he decided to run for Milwaukee County executive, she was moved to take his place, and then ran for the Wisconsin State Senate the same year Walker ran for the governorship in 2010.
Senator Vukmir was followed by Lt. Gov. Kleefisch, who recounted the dark days of the Leftist riots in the state capitol in the wake of Act 10, the legislation which curbed the power of Wisconsin public-employee unions and stanched the flow of red ink in the state’s unconstitutional budget deficit. With other members of the administration, she received death threats, as well as threats to harm her two young daughters. At one point, as the recall petitions were circulating in 2011, she recounted how she texted a message of encouragement to the embattled governor, a scriptural reference: Jeremiah XXIX,11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans for hope and a future.”
Walker’s response was equally short and simple — Isaiah LIV,17: “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the L-rd, and their due reward from Me, saith the L-rd.”
Tonette told of how she and Scott had met at a popular restaurant in Wauwatosa, where he slipped her a note on a napkin. He said that he didn’t mean to be rude, but he had to leave to get up for work the next morning, and he invited her out to dinner with his name and telephone number. A week later, Tonette called him. Eight months later, in the same restaurant, he again passed her a note on a napkin saying that he didn’t wish to be rude, and proposed marriage. “That’s Scott,” she said. “Polite and to the point.”
Walker followed, using no notes for a thirty-five minute speech which was cheered constantly by the crowd.
His reasons for running for the presidency, he said, were the same as his reasons for running for the governorship — Matt and Alex. He wanted them to have a better Wisconsin than the one he had grown up in, and also a better country than the one he had grown up in.
Walker summarized his vision for a Walker presidency in three words: Reform, growth, and safety.
Under the first heading, he proposes total repeal of Obamacare, an immediate moratorium on issuance of new federal regulations (similar to one he imposed in Wisconsin) followed by review and repeal of regulations deemed onerous or unnecessary red-tape, and an “all-of-the-above” energy policy, leveling the playing field for competition of all sorts of energy production. He supports using “the abundance of what G-d has given us here in America and on this continent. We are now an energy-rich country and we can literally fuel our economic recovery.”
He vowed to approve the Keystone pipeline on “day one,” to eliminate federal mandates such as Common Core and return control of school systems to state and local bodies where it belongs, and “to take the power and money out of Washington and send it to our states … where it is more effective, more efficient, and more accountable to the people of America.”
Under the second, he recounted the story of shopping in the popular department store Kohl’s, now familiar from his stump speeches. He spoke of buying shirts on sale with coupons and “Kohl’s cash,” lowering the price until “they’re paying us to buy that shirt.” Kohl’s, he asserted, makes money on volume; “they could charge you $29.99 and a few of you could afford it, or they can lower the price and broaden the base and make more money off of volume.”
In this, he found an analogy for reducing tax rates:
The government could charge the higher rates and a few of you could afford it. Or, we can lower the rates and broaden the base and increase the volume of people participating in our economy. Years ago, we saw this kind of plan work well under President Ronald Reagan. Back then, it was called the Laffer Curve. Today, I call it the Kohl’s Curve because I believe that you can spend your own money far better than the government — and that will help grow the economy.
Under “safety,” Walker proposed restoring an assertive American foreign policy for the sake of a “safe and stable world.” He referenced his memory of tying ribbons around the tree in front of his boyhood home during the 444 days of the Iranian hostage crisis. He acknowledged the presence in the crowd of Kevin Hermening, a Wisconsin Marine who had been the youngest of those hostages. Also for day one — clearly a very busy day in the planned Walker administration — Walker vows that he would rescind any nuclear agreement reached with Iran, impose crippling economic sanctions, and encourage the rest of the world to do the same.
Walker’s passage on terror evoked the strongest response from the crowd:
The greatest threat to future generations is radical Islamic terrorism and we need to do something about it. That means lifting the political restrictions on our military personnel in Iraq so they can help our Kurd and Sunni allies reclaim land taken by ISIS. On behalf of your children and mine, I’d rather take the fight to them than wait for them to bring the fight to us. We need to acknowledge that Israel is our ally and start treating Israel like an ally. There should be absolutely no daylight between our two countries. That’s why I went to Israel earlier this year and met with both the prime minister and the opposition leader to express my wholehearted support for the unshakeable bonds between our two countries.
Walker vowed to resist Russian aggression in Europe and elsewhere, noting that Americans desire peace, but are not afraid to fight — and win — when necessary. He promised to fight and win for all Americans, whether they live in cities, suburbs, or small towns, are healthy or sick, born or unborn, young, old, or in between, native-born or naturalized citizens.
This section won Walker a standing ovation; the roaring applause shook the stands.