DES MOINES, Iowa — Scott Walker’s message to conservatives here on Saturday: “Go big and go bold.”
The Wisconsin governor, a Republican who is thinking about running for president in 2016, used a 20-minute speech before activists at the Iowa Freedom Summit to portray himself as an ordinary guy who has a record of getting conservative results in a purple state.
Discussing the liberal protests and the unsuccessful recall effort against him in 2012, Walker said his victory “sends a powerful message to Republicans in Washington and around the country — if you’re not afraid to go big and go bold, you can actually get results. And if you get the job done, the voters will actually stand up with you.”
“Maybe that’s why I won the race for governor three times in the last four years,” Walker boasted. “Three times in a state that hasn’t gone Republican for president since I was in high school more than 30 years ago. How about that?”
Walker, wearing a tie and dress shirt with his sleeves rolled up, talked about the number of threats made against his wife and children during the protests from the public sector unions. One threat “that bothered me the most,” Walker told the audience, was a person who said they would “gut my wife like a deer.”
“Another time a protester sent a threat directly to my wife that said if she didn’t do something to stop me, I would be the first Wisconsin governor ever assassinated,” Walker said to audible gasps in the crowd.
Walker talked up what he considers his accomplishments in Wisconsin. “A lot people know about the protests and the recall, but they don’t know about the comprehensive, common sense agenda that we’ve enacted in our state,” he told the crowd.
Walker pointed out how Wisconsin defunded Planned Parenthood, revoked regulations on small businesses, enacted lawsuit reform, pushed through concealed carry legislation and implemented voter ID laws.
During his remarks, Walker focused much on his biography, telling the crowd that he knows how to get discounts on clothes at Kohls and how he flipped burgers at McDonalds to help pay for college.
“Like many of you here, I grew up in a small town,” he said. “My dad was a preacher at a local church. My mom was a part time secretary who raised my bother and I.”
Walker has said he won’t make a decision about a presidential campaign until after the budget process in Wisconsin, which means an announcement probably won’t come until sometime early this summer.
But in the meantime, Walker’s inner circle is busy working to put in place the necessary infrastructure in the probable case he pulls the trigger.
Walker, in his speech, stressed his ties to Iowa, telling the audience he went to school in the state until the third grade, when his dad took a job in Wisconsin.
He also hinted that this won’t be his last trip to the early nominating state.
“I’m pleased to be here in Iowa today,” he said. “I’m going to come back many more times in the future.”