Exclusive: Gov. Scott Walker Talks Wisconsin Recall Battle
As the only governor in history to survive a recall effort--one in which he faced $21 million in union funding against him--Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has earned the right to name his new book Unintimidated.
Walker sat down for an exclusive interview with the Sirius XM Patriots Forum hosted by Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon for a wide-ranging chat about the madness of the failed union-led recall against him, his hard path to structural reform, and how he refused the temptation to "go Christie" on protesters.
The path to the wild political ride Walker endured to fix his state was born of an earnest desire to change what he told Bannon was a "vicious cycle" between unions and politician--unions would use their funding to campaign for candidates that would govern in ways that helped increase the union's funding. "No one in that equation stands up for hard-working taxpayers," he concluded.
The struggle for reform sparked an immediate backlash from union groups across the country, who flocked to Wisconsin and created a political chaos reinforced by an extreme lack of cooperation on the part of Democratic legislators who temporarily left the state.
Walker spoke of the strength of prayer during that turbulent time, finding power in the reading of Bible verses and embracing those supporters who spoke openly of their faith to him. Sharing advice he once gave to Rep. Paul Ryan upon being chosen as the 2012 Republican Vice Presidential candidate, Walker noted that the "most important thing" was to embrace those who said, "I'll pray for you."
"That is not a throwaway line," he emphasized, adding that "you need to reach out and touch those people," because that is the support that reinforced him the most.
And Walker needed the prayers, recounting the viciousness of the opposition during the height of his implementation of reforms. "They would track down my mother in her 70s, my son who was 16 years old at the time in the supermarket," he recalled. He said he often thought, "This has got to be a movie, this is a joke." With reform opposition camped out in front of government buildings and impeding the flow of government business, Walker called the union push a "precursor to the Occupy movement," one whose viciousness he considers history to have softened but is still vivid in his memory.
Ultimately, the victory in the recall effort boiled down to two factors for Governor Walker: the return of children to vastly improved schools that September, and homeowners seeing their property taxes drop as they rolled in at the end of the year. "People could see for themselves that life was better in Wisconsin," he noted.
That, Walker concluded, is the path to victory for the Republican party nationally. "People need to hear not just what is wrong with the other side," he argued, "they have to hear what our plan is." He suggests the 2012 Republican Party focused too much on President Obama's flaws rather than their own positive traits, a strategy that does not win elections. He also suggested, however, to keep the formula of putting a governor at the top of the ticket--as he did this Sunday on This Week. "We are much more optimistic," he said of executives, "...and we have the courage to act on it."