CHICAGO — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker predicted on Friday that not only will he win his recall election in June, but that his victory would encourage other politicians at the state and national level to show more political courage.
“On June 5th, I believe we’ll prevail because we have the most powerful thing on our side and that’s the truth” said Walker, “and it will send a powerful message that you can stick your neck out, you can make the tough choices, and there will be voters standing behind you along the way.”
The speech, hosted by the Illinois Policy Institute, drew a crowd of about two hundred people, and about the same number of protesters who gathered outside. The anti-Walker crowd included at least one individual dressed as a rat.
John Tillman, Chief Executive Officer of IPI, joked that he tried to have a conversation with the protesters. He even tried to raise money from the group, whom he hinted organized labor had paid to be there, but without any luck — “because I can’t confiscate union dues.”
The speech marked just the latest in a string of Illinois appearances by Walker and Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch in the past past week. Kleefisch attended a Chicago tea party rally on Monday. Walker made a speech in the state capital of Springfield. Both are hoping to contrast their smaller-government and lower-taxes policies with those of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.
Walker, like Kleefisch, pointed out that Wisconsin closed a $3.5 billion budget deficit without raising taxes. Wisconsin, he insisted, saw property tax cuts for the first time in more than a decade during his time in office. (RELATED: TheDC’s Ginni Thomas interviews Scott Walker)
Meanwhile in Illinois, he said, Quinn signed into law a 66-percent income tax increase and the state owes billions in past due bills.
In a moment of levity, Walker said he told his children that the June recall election will only serve to cement his name in the history books.
“I joke with my kids, who love history, that I’ll be the only governor to be elected twice in his first term,” Walker joked.
The governor also made light of his new status as a political rock star, recalling his family’s visit to a popular July 4 music festival held every year in Milwaukee.
“When I take my kids to Summer Fest, they call me an old fogey because I go to the classic rock stage. I’ve come to realize that my kids view ’80s music the way I viewed ’50s music.”
True to his rock-star status, Walker was ushered out of the room with a ten-person entourage and at least that many television cameras following.
Walker will conclude his tour of the State of Illinois with a speech to the Lake County Republican Party in Lincolnshire, a posh suburb about thirty miles north of Chicago.