WOODBRIDGE, Virginia — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, stormed into the Commonwealth of Virginia on Saturday with a spring in his step heading into the next stages of the GOP presidential election.
Walker, who just scored key conservative Sen. Mark Obenshain to chair his Virginia campaign efforts, is the first presidential candidate on the GOP side this campaign cycle to make a stop in the all-important Prince William County, a swing county. Walker’s pickup of Obenshain, of course, is a direct contrast to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush bringing aboard disgraced former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on his campaign, a couple of blasts from the past up against two conservative stalwarts. Cantor is the only Majority Leader in the history of the United States of America to ever lose re-election in a primary, proving just how unpopular he is statewide in Virginia and in his old district, now represented by Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA).
Speaking before a crowd of a couple hundred at a PWC Young Republicans cookout at the county GOP headquarters, Walker lambasted the Washington establishment and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He said Clinton’s email scandal should mean she is “disqualified” from being president. He joked, too, that the leftwing Occupy Wall Street movement didn’t start on Wall Street—it started on his street in Wisconsin. Most importantly, Walker—who did slip a little bit in some recent polls as businessman Donald Trump has risen to become the clear GOP frontrunner—appeared to have a renewed level of energy and seemed to be having fun.
After the speech, Walker stuck around to take pictures and chat with what seemed like every single person who came out to see him. He signed autographs, and listened to the voters about their concerns. He also hopped on one man’s oversized Harley Davidson motorcycle to take some pictures. Walker also did an exclusive sit-down interview with Breitbart News in the headquarters of the county GOP, an interview that is forthcoming.
“It’s great to be here at this time to say I’m Scott Walker, I’m running for president, and I’m asking for your vote here in the Commonwealth,” Walker opened his speech by saying, after thanking Obenshain for all his efforts on behalf of his campaign. “It’s actually great to be in this spot, because I was here back in your gubernatorial election helping—literally, right here—with many of you here, I appreciate that. We’re going to keep coming back to Virginia over and over and over again, from one end of the state to the other, because we know that Virginia is important not only at the beginning of the year in 2016, but we want to be back as your Republican nominee for president to win in Virginia in the fall of 2016 as well.”
Walker made a big pitch to conservatives and grassroots activists in Virginia and around the country.
“We need the grassroots,” Walker said. “We talked about winning three times in the last four years for governor. We won in a blue state, we won with incredible grassroots support. That starts with people getting out getting signatures to get on the ballot, then going out going door to door, neighbor to neighbor, going to folks tomorrow at church and elsewhere in next year’s elections and get that message out. We know building a grassroots organization is what it takes to win elections. I’m committed to that. In the last couple years, between the recall election in 2012 and the reelection in 2014 we made twice as many contacts in that two years than we had in the presidential election in 2012. So we know the grassroots can make a difference. We were the number one target in the country in 2012 during the presidential election, and last year during the reelection there was no bigger target when it came to governors, the United States Senate or the House of Representatives. The unions, the Obamas, the Clintons, everyone came into our state and you know what? We won again.”
Walker noted that he carried independents in Wisconsin by more than 11 points, and he said he believes that is because independents are concerned about the same thing GOP base voters are.
“They want leadership,” Walker said. “They want people to look them in the eye and tell them what they’re going to do and then go out and do it. Now, more than ever, America needs a leader in the White House who has been tested. We saw what happened in 2008 when America sent someone to the White House who had never run anything before, who had never had an executive position in government before. We see what an abysmal failure it’s been to the economy, to the size and scope of the government, to our standing in the world. Now more than ever we need a leader in the White House who has been tested. I’m going to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been tested more than any candidate in this race. We have passed that test. We will stand up and fight and win for you, your family, your families’ way of life here in Virginia and across America every single day.”
The crowd went wild.
Walker cited several of the new Republican senators since the GOP took the majority—Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) among them—and noted that they need a Republican who’s a “reformer” like him in the White House to help get things done that are positive so they can show the country “it’s not just about party; it’s about country, and if we can do that we can make this country great again.”
“But it’s going to take a lot of work,” Walker said. “I’d love to have that head-to-head battle, I’d love to have that head-to-head battle with Hillary Clinton.”
Walker referenced his recent foreign policy speech at the Citadel in South Carolina and began laying out his vision on national security.
“When I was at the citadel and I was talking to about a thousand cadets, I pointed out in the real world—the world outside of Washington—you don’t get promoted to another job when you failed at the last one,” Walker said. “You get fired. Hillary Clinton failed at her job as Secretary of State. In fact, everywhere in the world that Hillary Clinton touched is more messed up today than when she and the president took office. In fact, people talk about this email scandal as if it’s about emails—it’s not about emails. It’s about national security. It’s about your security. It’s about my security. It’s about our children’s security. She put our national security at risk. She either violated the law which means it’s illegal, or she’s incompetent because she didn’t know what top secret or classified information was. Either way, that makes her disqualified to be President of the United States. We need someone who’s not intimidated to call her out on that or to call the media out on that or to call anybody in America out on that. You know I’m not intimidated. America is not intimidated—I’m not going to be intimidated.”
From there, Walker went through how he faced down the institutional left in Wisconsin.
“We took on 100,000 protesters,” Walker said. “My wife Tonette is here with me today—my boys and I and Tonette, we faced all the death threats against me, the threats against our family, the threats against our lawmakers. We dealt with 100,000 protesters who occupied our Capitol. The Occupy Wall Street movement didn’t start on Wall Street; it started on my street in Madison, Wisconsin. They retreated to Wall Street after they lost. For a while there was a point for about a month where 14 Senate Democrats in the minority decided to leave the state and go south into Illinois and go south to try to stop what we were doing to push reform. In the end, we prevailed. When it was all said and done, one of my good friends Congressman Sean Duffy gave me a great bumper sticker. It said ‘One Walker Beats 14 Runners.’”