Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker hit the stage at RedState Gathering Saturday and immediately began deconstructing the presumptive Democrat nominee.
“Every place in the world that Hillary Clinton has touched is more messed up today than when she and President Obama took office,” Walker said during a barrage that was clearly meant to keep the focus on the GOP’s eventual general election opponent.
The key question Republicans need to answer, says Walker, is “who’s best equipped to make sure that Hillary Clinton is not the next president?”
He called his GOP rivals “a great group of Repubicans” and said they’re not the opponent, Hillary Clinton is. Walker noted that Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers “doesn’t talk trash. He shows what he does on the field of play.” Adopting that same attitude, he said to rising applause, “I don’t just talk about it. I fight and I win and I have a record of accomplishment in a blue state and I did not compromise my principles to get it.”
Walker described himself as “reform-minded” with a simple plan that includes reform, growth and safety.
Being a reformer means “taking power from Washington and putting it into the hands of people.”
For example, he said, “I don’t believe in Common Core or a nationwisde school board. Send the money and power back to the people at the local level.”
In contrast to Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, who measure success by how many people are receiving government assistance, Walker said, “We measure successs by how many people are no longer dependent upon the government.”
Walker talked of his upbringing and his first job, washing dishes at the Countryside Restaurant, until he got a better one, flipping burgers at McDonald’s.
The lesson he learned from his parents was, “If you work hard and play by the rules you can do and be anything you want. That is the American dream. If more people are going to live that dream we have to have an economy that’s going to work for every American.”
As several candidates have done this weekend, he noted that six of the top 10 wealthiest zip codes are in suburban Washington, D.C., because of government employees, lobbyists and all of the companies reliant upon government for their fat salaries.
Walker said, “People create jobs, not the government.” Relieving pressure on small businesses would be a top priority for President Walker, a plan that includes repealing Obamacare, reining in out-of-control federal regulations, and adopting an “all of the above” energy policy to “take advantage of what God has given us.”
“We are an energy rich country,” he said, “and we need to start acting like it.”
A workforce prepared for 21st century jobs requires reforming schools to “give people the education and skills they need to succeed.”
Walker reminded the audience that in Wisconsin, “We took power out of the hands of big-government union bosses and put it firmly in the hands of the hard-working taxpayers.”
Education reforms allowed school districts to hire and fire on merit, as well as to escape the burden of expensive, union-controlled healthcare policies.
In addition to reforming education, Walker said under his leadership Wisconsin cut taxes by $2 billion, on individuals, businesses and property.
He tells a folksy story about how he and his wife, Tonette, take advantage of every discount at Kohl’s department store until the store is practically paying him to take the product. He notes that the strategy of Kohl’s is to make less profit per item on great volume. That’s his strategy in government — lower the tax rate, and broaden the tax base so that more people are participating and each person pays less.
Instead of Arthur Laffer’s famous curve that illustrates how tax revenues fall off as tax rates increase, Walker calls it “the Kohl’s curve.”
Safety means “protecting your children and grandchildren from radical Islamic terrorism,” he said. “To prosper we need to live in a safe and stable world.”
Walker hearkens to the era when President Reagan rebuilt the military, stood up for allies and stood against adversaries, leading to one of the most peaceful times in history.
Every candidate who spoke this weekend opposes President Obama’s proposed nuclear deal with Iran.
“Iran is not a place we should be doing business with,” Walker said. “If I am the president I will terminate the deal with Iran the very first day in office.” The audience rose for one of several standing ovations.
“The greatest threat to future generations is radical Islamic terroism,” he said, “and we need to do something about it.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin takes advantage of American weakness to push into a neighboring country, but Walker said we need to stand up against Russia.
“America needs a foreign policy that puts steel in front of our enemies,” he said.
On immigration he said, “Secure our borders. Enforce our laws. No amnesty. And move forward with a legal immigration system that gives priority to American working families and their wages.”
We should support and properly equip our military, Walker said, and “give them the timely, quality care they deserve when they come home. The best way to honor them is by fighting to win. Our goal should be peace, but there will be times when America must fight. The rest of the world must know that there is no greater friend and no worse enemy than the United States of America.”
Walker said ultimately he ran for governor because he wanted his sons, Matt and Alex, to grow up in a better Wisconsin, and that motivation is what kept him going in the dark days of death threats, union occupation of the Capitol building and a recall election. His plan and determination worked.
“My sons are growing up in a state, because of our reforms, that is better than the state I grew up in.”
Now he wants to do the same for the United States of America.
“We are a great country,” Walker said. “We just need to start acting like it again.”
During the Q&A session, the Wisconsin governor said he can win in places like Pennsylvania that skew Democrat because he carried blue-collar areas in his own state once folks saw that his reforms worked. It’s perhaps a small thing, but he said, “We’re going to make a play for the Commonwealth.” Pennsylvanians will notice that he used the proper word. Only four states in the country are officially designated “commonwealth” — Kentucky, Massachussetts, Virginia, Pennsylvania. The fact that “the Commonwealth” rolled easily from his tongue suggests Walker knows a thing or two about Pennsylvania. He also knew that, though the governor is a Democrat, the Pennsylvania legislature is controlled by Republicans, meaning he has more than a fair shot of winning there.
To reverse the U.S. trade deficit, Walker called for “free and open trade on a level playing field. Americans can compete with anyone in the world on a level playing field.”
The problem now is that President Obama is a bad negotiator: “I’d love to play cards with this guy, because this guy folds on just about everything.”
Answering the persistent question about his lack of a college degree, Walker utterly neutralized it by saying: “I didn’t graduate from college. A lot of my friends had degrees and no job. I had a job offer with no degree.”
He also noted that credibility as a presidential candidate is “not just about where you went to college, but about the job you’re doing [now].”