MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who’s formally announcing on Monday evening that he’s running for president, told Breitbart News in a recent exclusive interview about his trip to Israel with his wife Tonette.
Walker visited Israel in early May right after a knockout speech to the South Carolina Freedom Summit. Walker’s interview about the Israel trip with Breitbart News came over Memorial Day weekend, and he walked through how he met with not just Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but opposition leader Isaac Herzog—and how he plans to, on day one if elected president of the United States, immediately undo President Barack Obama’s forthcoming deal with Iran.
He also spoke of various tours he, Tonette, and others from groups like the Republican Jewish Coalition and from his staff took around Israel to various historically significant sites like the Western Wall, the Mount of Olives, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Via Dolorosa, the Jordan River Valley, the Golan Heights, the Sea of Galilee, and near the city of Sderot next to Gaza. He said that, as a Christian, “it was very profound” literally walking in many of the places where Jesus Christ himself walked, and seeing the places where Christ spoke, died, was buried and rose into Heaven.
“Couple things, first thing my trip was a combination of both wanting to be briefed by top government officials—Prime Minister Netanyahu and others—but also some from the military,” Walker told Breitbart News when asked about the details of the trip.
Part of it was educational on the key issues and the other part though was less obvious but maybe more significant. That was to Netanyahu and to all—we even met with [Isaac] Herzog, the opposition leader—I wanted to send a positive message that should I run for president and should the voters of America elect me and should I serve as president of the United States, I wanted to be perfectly clear that if I were the president America would re-establish itself as a strong ally of Israel. I think there is a real concern in that country and it was affirmed on my visit that America is somehow backing away at least in part from that relationship. Another clear takeaway was—Netanyahu was obvious based on what he said in the past—but Herzog and others in the Knesset, despite their political leanings, there was unanimous concern about the Iran deal being proposed by this administration.
Walker said that under President Obama, he has “no doubt” at all that “there has been damage done” to the United States’ relationship with Israel. That’s why he’s promising that on day one if elected president, he’ll undo any deal with Iran that Obama cuts.
“I think there is no doubt that there has been damage done to that relationship,” Walker said.
You see it not just with the Iran deal, you saw it even a year ago with what goes on at AIPAC with mixed messages sent between the Secretary of State, the president and with Netanyahu. I think there’s a real concern the last several years where they feel like they have been betrayed. The most serious, the most egregious act is you get a strong sense I think in Israel that is it politically motivated. With Netanyahu, Herzog and just about everyone in between there is just a strong, strong sense of concern because they live with this intense kind of security threat every day in Israel. They’re very, very concerned that allowing Iran to go forth by lifting the sanctions certainly puts them at security risk but will bring uncertainty in the region and relations when it comes to a nuclear arms race. They’re very, very concerned about it. So what can we do about it? Well, besides from the symbolic thing, having Netanyahu showing through meetings and discussions reaffirming our alliance with Israel, there’s also very practical things like on day one pulling back the nuclear deal Obama is set to approve—I think that would send a strong message not just to Israel, our ally, but to the rest of the world, that things have changed and that we’re not going to be party to a country like Iran which still poses a threat to the rest of the world.
Walker also said that in addition to Iran, he spoke with Netanyahu about the conservative reforms he’s achieved in Wisconsin as governor—and he said that the Israeli Prime Minister was “appreciative” of the fact that he’s not just making promises on the campaign trail to get elected, but he’s got a track record of actually getting those promises done in office. As governor, Walker has cut Wisconsin’s unemployment rate significantly: It was 7.8 percent when he took office and it’s 4.4 percent now, a full percent less than the national average. He’s cut more than $2 billion in taxes and sliced away government waste with collective bargaining reforms with regard to unions and the left—saving taxpayers more than $3 billion. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
“We talked about the relationship with the United States and Israel, certainly about concerns with Iran and concerns about security overall,” Walker told Breitbart News of his meeting with Netanyahu.
We talked about concerns beyond just the nuclear infrastructure that Iran has but even things as specific as the intercontinental ballistic missiles that are not only directed at Israel but also at least could be at the borders of the United States. We talked about some of the these things I have done in terms of the battles I have faced like taking on the big government union policies and others and trying to adjust the size and scope of the government and just being willing to take on the big challenges. Certainly, he was appreciative of me being willing to take on the big challenges. And we talked about, if I were president, how I’d re-establish that strong relationship. They already knew I’d reaffirmed it, and they have followed my statements about backing away from the deal on day one—and they certainly appreciated that.
Walker praised the people of Israel for re-electing Netanyahu even in the face of campaign operatives from President Obama’s political team working over in Israel to try to undermine them.
“It’s pretty clear that in a nation that lives every day with a very real threat you’ve got to have leaders who will do what is required to protect their borders and take defensive action for the people of Israel,” Walker said.
Walker also told Breitbart News about the various things outside of his official meetings there, and how he toured Israel in a helicopter getting to see many Biblically and historically significant sights.
“One of the interesting things I did outside of the official meetings was a week ago Monday I went up on a full day’s tour of Israel in a helicopter with a retired general,” Walker said in the May 22 interview.
We went from Jerusalem over to the Jordan Valley and got to look at some of that for a while, then went up to Golan Heights and went out and got out to point and look at Syria and Lebanon, then got back in and came down and went out to the Sea of Galilee then went over to Nazareth then to Tel Aviv then went down to Gaza to see the Gaza Strip. That was probably the most telling where talking to soldiers, talking to civilians, not too far away from Gaza you can see in many instances they are trained to when a siren goes off within 10 seconds seek cover. I said last weekend in Iowa that they’re living in very much the same circumstances where we Americans have felt like the day after 9/11, they’re living on a daily basis. So I saw all of that. The other interesting thing is on the way back from Gaza to Jerusalem, we went up in the middle of the country in the helicopter higher in the air and looked out and saw the basin of the Dead Sea. We went out on the other side and saw the Mediterranean—it’s actually kind of cool there, where we were at was where they believe David killed the Goliath. It was obviously a long, long time ago, but just being that high up and seeing those water basins reminded me how porous the borders are and how real the threats are in the region.
Walker’s wife, Tonette, spent one day at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem meeting with members of that organization’s pediatric trauma team while discussing her Fostering Futures initiative and another at Israel’s Teen Challenge facility, Ark in the Negev. The women’s home in Arad, Israel, Walker’s team noted after the trip, pushes healing through Bible-based discipleship and job training in fields like hair styling, marketable handcrafts, computer skills, and teaching English as a second language. The Wisconsin chapter of Teen Challenge, a Christian group, helped build Ark in the Negev and on a monthly basis helps support the center.
“In terms of my wife, she went with me to a lot of the spots—but on one of the days, she’s not real fond of helicopters, so when I was touring the nation in a helicopter she went to a children’s hospital and went to a program similar to what she does stateside on trauma and long term care to meet with fostering families and share with some of the kids some things from Wisconsin,” Walker told Breitbart News. “She and I both went, for example, to tour the Holocaust Memorial and Museum and laid a wreath there and joined one night we went for dinner with soldiers and vets and families of vets who do events for families of Israeli military personnel. So it was a moving experience for both of us.”
When asked about what it meant to him to see these significant places up close and personal, Walker said it was “very profound.”
“It was very profound both from a historical point and from a personal standpoint as a Christian, literally walking on the places where Christ and his disciples would have walked at the time,” Walker said.
Being there not only from a New Testament but also from an Old Testament standpoint, seeing the hill upon which the temple is built which is where Abraham would have offered up Isaac as a sacrifice. Being on the Mount of Olives, seeing the Garden of Gethsemane, literally being in that Valley which is the Valley of Death which is what David wrote about in Psalm 23, walking in that area and seeing the City of David which is where the palace would have been built and going through the tunnel that King Solomon would have taken up to the Temple, seeing Calvary the spot where the cross would have been placed and the tomb they believe Christ was buried. Seeing all of those things from the New Testament—going to the Sea of Galilee where Christ lived as an adult, where the Sermon on the Mount was, where the feeding of the 5,000 was—just all of those things as a Christian was very profound for me but also from a historical standpoint.
Walker added that seeing up close and personal the intersection of the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian faiths—all three have at one point or another throughout history been dominant forces in what is now Israel—gives him a sense of how crucial it is to maintain Israel’s strength in a fragile region of the world.
Seeing all that, seeing where Samson and Delilah would have been, seeing all of these historical places and even from the standpoint of not only my faith tradition but seeing Jerusalem, seeing the place where Christ would die and where he was buried and where he ascended, the point where they believe he ascended up into Heaven, seeing the sites that are important to the Jewish faith and tradition but also after years of history of seeing different conquerors and different empires which were responsible for that region even seeing the Mosques that were built on that same site, seeing how you’ve got Christians, Jews and Muslims all converging on this one spot all from their faith tradition you can see just how tenuous that area can be without stability. Just it gives you a profound sense of what you’re dealing with.