Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker eschewed the podium at Saturday’s Iowa Freedom Summit, opting to use the full stage to work the room with an incredibly high-energy speech that repeatedly stressed the themes of “common sense conservative reform” and the GOP’s need to “go big and go bold” if they want to win in American politics today.
Walker ended by telling Iowans, “I’m going to come back many more times in the future” and pointed to a broader American revival similar to the one he said he’s led in Wisconsin. This seemed to be a clear sign that Walker intends to aggressively pursue the GOP nomination in 2016.
Striking a mostly populist pose, Walker began his speech by thanking individuals for helping him to take on “big money Washington,” special interests, and unions in Wisconsin. He also thanked people on behalf of both himself and his wife for their prayers, citing the support they both felt as they endured protests and death threats for pursuing his political agenda in Wisconsin.
Occupy Wall Street began in Wisconsin, said Walker, adding that the threat that bothered him the most was one that said they were going to “gut his wife” like a deer.
That portion of Walker’s message appeared designed to make the case that he’d have the strength and drive to stay the course, however difficult, should he opt to run for the presidency in 2016. From there, Walker shifted to economics.
Citing Wisconsin’s debt and tax situation before his reforms, Walker insisted he wasn’t afraid to go “big and bold,” adding that people in Wisconsin are growing up in a state better than the one in which he was first elected. Walker claimed that Wisconsin is the only state in America that can say that today, noting that he was re-elected three times in a state that trends Democrat.
More than once, Walker returned to “Go big, go bold!” and “common sense conservative reform” as the signature themes of his speech. Insisting he took the power away from the special interests in Wisconsin and put it back in the hands of the people, Walker also said his success in Wisconsin demonstrates that “common sense conservative reforms work,” and if they can work in Wisconsin, they can work “anywhere in the country”
He also talked about education, saying that Wisconsin can now hire the best teachers available because of his education reforms. Walker cited the state’s ability to pay based upon performance and hire and fire upon performance, not tenure, as the cornerstones of that success.
Briefly defining an agenda based upon his Wisconsin experience , Walker cited pro-life legislation, defunding planned parenthood, pulling back excessive government regulations, and enforcing “common sense” not “bureaucratic red tape” in government. He also cited cutting down on frivolous lawsuits and allowing for concealed carry and “castle doctrine” so citizens can stand up and defend their property.
Walker was met with broad applause several times, notably when mentioning requiring a photo ID to vote to preserve election integrity as another part of his agenda. Obama and Obamacare also rated a mention, with Walker pointing out he fought Obamacare in court and his intention to fight “Obama’s executive overreach” in court going forward.
He also cited what he termed “big and bold” tax cuts that reduced taxes by $2 billion in Wisconsin. Walker said Wisconsin property taxes are lower today than they were four years ago, and he’s going to keep lowering them. It’s “people’s money not the government’s money,” said Walker — contrasting the “Wisconsin way” with the “Washington way.”
Walker ended his speech by focusing on his youth and family, citing his first job at a restaurant to support himself while in school. Growing up, “We were kind of poor,” he said, adding that he had to work hard but wouldn’t have it any other way, voicing support for “policies that support and defend hard work,” while promoting policies that contoinue to “open the door of opportunity” in America.
“I never had a young classmate say they wanted to become dependent on American government when they grew up,” said Walker, calling America one of few places left in the world where it doesn’t matter what circumstances you were born into, as “the outcome is up to everyone individually. We celebrate the 4th of July not the 15th of April,” he added.
The governor called for leaders in Washington who understand it’s not important to build the economy of Washington, but to build it in states and towns across the country. He also briefly addressed foreign policy by saying, “We need leaders that understand when freedom-loving people anywhere are under attack, we need to stand with them.” Walker used the phrase “radical Islamic terrorists,” a move likely meant to draw a contrast between him and Obama, who recently said he doesn’t like the term “radical Islam.”
Near the end of his address, before saying he’d be back to Iowa many times, Walker said, “The measure of success for government should not be how many people depend upon it, but how many are no are longer dependent on it”.