Embattled Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker implored an audience at CPAC Friday night to help him fight a recall campaign in his home state, warning that it could be a serious blow for political courage if unions angry over his reforms win.
Walker said three things are needed to help him triumph in a recall election later this year: help from those all over the country reaching out to friends and family in Wisconsin (“our most powerful tool is the truth …spread that truth all across Wisconsin”), help with the ground game to counter the “thousands of bodies” labor unions are shipping into the state to push the recall, and financial help even if it’s as small as a dollar (he predicted unions will spend as much as $70 million on the effort).
Proponents of the recall effort turned in about a million signatures; 540,208 are needed to force a recall. Walker has said he expected his adversaries to reach the required number and has been preparing his supporters for an election fight. Still, the Republican Party has about 2,000 volunteers to review and possibly challenge the petition signatures, which they can do until Feb. 26.
“There’s something bigger at stake here” — proving that the people will back politicians who show courage, said Walker.
“When we prevail it will send a powerful message to every politician in America,” he said.
Walker said he quickly got to work in Wisconsin after coming into office in January 2011, believing that pink slips weren’t the answer to righting the financial ship but long-term structural reform was.
In 2010, he said, when business owners were asked if the state was headed in the right direction, just 10 percent said yes; in 2012, that optimistic response had shot up to 94 percent.
“I want to know where those six percent are so I can go out and personally lobby them,” Walker said.
He said thousands of new jobs have sprung up in the private sector and unemployment is at its lowest rate since 2008.
“I wanted to show that when we said Wisconsin was open for business it was more than a sign or a slogan,” he said. “It’s working.”
The governor repeated a line he often uses about his mindset in plowing forward with his reforms: “We thought more about the next generation than we did about the next election.”
He said his school reforms are based on the belief that traditional public schools should be empowered with the same chance for success as charter or private schools.
Walker also took a swipe at unions, saying that the labor giants are afraid that if you give employees the choice whether or not to join a union then employees will keep their own money.
“Our reforms protect the middle class who pays for the massive expansion of government,” the governor said. “We put the power back in the hands of the people and ultimately the taxpayers.”