What Scott Walker Actually Said

 

Yes, believe it or not, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker actually spoke at some length at the dinner this past week where Rudy Giuliani charged that President Obama doesn’t love America. All the hullabaloo went to Giuliani, but in terms of the Republican presidential race, a number of Scott Walker’s pointed comments about policy and politicians are not to be missed.

First a word about the dinner itself, which was generously backed by John Catsimatidis. It was the second event sponsored by the Committee to Unleash American Prosperity, a new group founded by Arthur Laffer, Steve Moore, Steve Forbes, and myself. Just as the Committee on the Present Danger — formed by Midge Decter, Norman Podhoretz, and Irving Kristol — worried about the decline in American foreign policy in the late 1970s, we are worried about the decline in American economic growth over the past 15 years.

Our view is simple: To maximize growth, jobs, opportunity, and upward mobility, the U.S. must recapture the first principles of economic growth that were so successful in the 1960s, ’80s, and ’90s. Namely, pro-growth policies should seek a low-rate, broad-based flat tax, limited government spending, the lightest possible economic regulations, sound money, and free trade.

Since 2000, the U.S. economy has barely reached 2 percent growth per year. Over the prior 100 years, American growth averaged 3.4 percent annually. To get back to the long-run trend — which epitomizes the most powerful engine of free-market capitalist prosperity in the history of history — future growth over the next decade will have to average 4 percent annually.

To advance our policy goals, our committee (still in formation) will be interviewing all the Republican presidential candidates in the months ahead. A few weeks ago we had dinner with Texas governor Rick Perry. This week we welcomed Scott Walker.

In his opening, Governor Walker stressed growth, reform, and safety. During the question-and-answer period, he emphasized sweeping Reagan-like tax cuts. And he frequently referred to his successful efforts in Wisconsin to curb public-union power as a means of lowering tax burdens, increasing economic growth, and reducing unemployment.

Noteworthy, Walker argued that when Reagan fired the PATCO air-traffic controllers over their illegal strike, he was sending a message of toughness to Democrats and unions at home as well as our Soviet enemies abroad. Similarly, Walker believes his stance against unions in Wisconsin would be a signal of toughness to Islamic jihadists and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Walker was also highly critical of President Obama’s conduct in the war against radical Islamism, and said the U.S. must wage a stronger battle in the air and on the ground against ISIS.

He stressed the need for a positive Republican message in 2016, and bluntly criticized Mitt Romney for spending too much time on the pessimistic economic negatives emanating from Obama’s policy failures.

And in an unmistakable rip at both Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, he called for a new generation and fresh faces to turn America back in the right direction.

More specifics: When asked about a sound-money policy, Walker said he was willing to sit down and learn. And on free trade, he needs a much clearer message. But in response to a question about solving middle-class income declines, he insisted that sweeping economic-growth policies aimed at all groups and categories, not just the so-called middle class, is the answer. He also aggressively defended his controversial University of Wisconsin budget cuts, arguing that they would slow tuition hikes and force professors to teach more.

Why did he leave Marquette before graduation? He saw a more attractive position at the Red Cross and wanted to start a political career. Yes, he nearly flunked French. But many folks think that’s a political plus. And as National Review editor Rich Lowry has written, 68 percent of Americans do not have a college degree. And many of us believe the time has come for a president without Ivy League credentials.

Can Walker win? Arthur Laffer has known him for years and says he has matured enormously from his days as Milwaukee county executive. Others say he is the only Republican candidate with a record of winning many different elections, from local office, to state assemblyman, to three gubernatorial races in four years.

Walker is a superb retail politician, a trait that will serve him well in the early primaries. He has an uncanny knack of maintaining direct eye contact. At the dinner, rather than rushing out for an early-morning TV call, he insisted on talking to every person in the large crowd surrounding him.

The question now is whether he can develop from a tough state-union buster to a national politician who can modernize Reagan’s policies while maintaining the Gipper’s upbeat message of optimism and growth.

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  1. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    A “new generation” and fresh faces?  That is, like, so 1960.

    • #1
  2. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    If Walker had never attended college or had dropped out for other reasons, it might hurt him more.  But I suspect even the 5-second version of his explanation — “left to work for the American Red Cross” — will be sufficient for most people.

    • #2
  3. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Would like to hear more of what he meant about “reform.”  I am wary of those who think growth is more important than reform, or even possible without it.

    • #3
  4. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Larry Kudlow: and bluntly criticized Mitt Romney for spending too much time on the pessimistic economic negatives emanating from Obama’s policy failures.

    When he knows as much as Mitt Romney knows about money, I’ll listen.

    Walker is most likely the next nominee–there’s a lot of momentum behind his candidacy.  I would vote for him because he’ll bring Republicans to Washington.

    But the union that Reagan got to back down has returned stronger than ever.  Mitt Romney put an end to the English as a Second Language program in Massachusetts. The change didn’t last. The unions wait it out. And the same will probably be true of Walker’s gains.

    Walker’s success in challenging and winning some concessions from the Wisconsin unions is certainly a good thing, but that is a very short resume, in my opinion.

    If he inspires the Republicans, I think that’s a good thing.

    But I’m not terribly impressed. A strong governor, yes, who has done some great things in that role. But I am concerned about his executive abilities to handle the U.S. government–military, foreign affairs, and the G-20.

    All that said, I do admire the intent of this impressive working group. The Committee to Unleash American Prosperity will do a lot of good. Mitt Romney has some ideas on this topic. I hope that along with the Republican candidates, Romney is invited to speak to the membership.

    • #4
  5. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    MarciN:

    Larry Kudlow: and bluntly criticized Mitt Romney for spending too much time on the pessimistic economic negatives emanating from Obama’s policy failures.

    When he knows as much as Mitt Romney knows about money, I’ll listen.

    You said it, sister!

    • #5
  6. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    Of course Walker can’t know anywhere near as much financially as Mitt. But he’s a fighter facing a den of vipers whereas Mitt was a sweet religious man who would turn a cheek. We need a fighter.
    Having Romney as an advisor is a smart idea.
    In a game of anyone but Bush, Walker has the lead. Having a decent grasp of policies and a willingness to learn more is huge. Being a tough man is critical as well.

    • #6
  7. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    DocJay:Of course Walker can’t know anywhere near as much financially as Mitt. But he’s a fighter facing a den of vipers whereas Mitt was a sweet religious man who would turn a cheek. We need a fighter. Having Romney as an advisor is a smart idea. In a game of anyone but Bush, Walker has the lead. Having a decent grasp of policies and a willingness to learn more is huge.Being a tough man is critical as well.

    Mitt wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. His father was a car executive; not even close to the $350 million dollar league of his son. You don’t make those kind of donuts in the USA if you’re a lightweight.

    • #7
  8. SParker Member
    SParker
    @SParker

    EThompson:

    DocJay:Of course Walker can’t know anywhere near as much financially as Mitt. But he’s a fighter facing a den of vipers whereas Mitt was a sweet religious man who would turn a cheek. We need a fighter. Having Romney as an advisor is a smart idea. In a game of anyone but Bush, Walker has the lead. Having a decent grasp of policies and a willingness to learn more is huge.Being a tough man is critical as well.

    Mitt wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. His father was a car executive; not even close to the $350 million dollar league of his son. You don’t make those kind of donuts in the USA if you’re a lightweight.

    The problem is that you can be a whiz at business and a drooling idiot when devising and explaining rational public policy.  Mitt, bless him, couldn’t even explain his tax rate:  was it justified?  If so, why?  If no, what would a just tax system look like?  Cringing on camera is not a compelling argument.  Bringing Paul Ryan on board was the best indication that he might have figured it all out eventually.

    Walker’s departure from the “help the middle class” nonsense (or is the word “meme”) is really refreshing.  Maybe “equality under law” will be a comeback concept.

    • #8
  9. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    SParker:

    EThompson:

    DocJay:Of course Walker can’t know anywhere near as much financially as Mitt. But he’s a fighter facing a den of vipers whereas Mitt was a sweet religious man who would turn a cheek. We need a fighter. Having Romney as an advisor is a smart idea. In a game of anyone but Bush, Walker has the lead. Having a decent grasp of policies and a willingness to learn more is huge.Being a tough man is critical as well.

    Mitt wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. His father was a car executive; not even close to the $350 million dollar league of his son. You don’t make those kind of donuts in the USA if you’re a lightweight.

    Mitt, bless him, couldn’t even explain his tax rate: was it justified? If so, why? If no, what would a just tax system look like?

    Mitt explained it perfectly well- I wasn’t confused! – but apparently the rest of the country was too involved in the class warfare resentment thing to care about its own best interests.

    • #9
  10. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    MarciN:

    Larry Kudlow: and bluntly criticized Mitt Romney for spending too much time on the pessimistic economic negatives emanating from Obama’s policy failures.

    When he knows as much as Mitt Romney knows about money, I’ll listen.

    But the union that Reagan got to back down has returned stronger than ever. Mitt Romney put an end to the English as a Second Language program in Massachusetts. The change didn’t last. The unions wait it out. And the same will probably be true of Walker’s gains.

    While Act 10 is in place, the unions will not regain their full power.  Their membership and funding have dropped dramatically and they are in a much weakened state even when a more favorable political climate develops.  And Act 10 is secure: It’s popular enough that Walker’s 2014 opponent wouldn’t promise to repeal it.  The legislature is about to send right-to-work to Walker’s desk.  No political victory is guaranteed permanence in a democratic country, but this one is complete.

    Also, I think you might be misunderstanding Walker’s criticism of Romney, which has to do with politics, not money.  Walker argued during the campaign that Romney was taking the wrong approach in focusing almost exclusively on how bad life was under Obama and said people wanted a bold, reformist, optimistic agenda.  Romney did propose bold reforms — on paper.  But the thrust of his campaign was, in a nutshell, “Obama isn’t working.”  It did not win hearts and minds.

    • #10
  11. JoePrunior Member
    JoePrunior
    @JoePrunior

    MarciN said, “But I’m not terribly impressed. A strong governor, yes, who has done some great things in that role. But I am concerned about his executive abilities to handle the U.S. government–military, foreign affairs, and the G-20.”

    Success in these areas is largely dependent on who a new president chooses for the Cabinet and the R’s bench is deeper and more competent.

    I’m not seeing anyone who has demonstrated better bona fides; most of the others are all too scary to consider: http://2016.presidential-candidates.org

    • #11
  12. user_5186 Inactive
    user_5186
    @LarryKoler

    DocJay:Of course Walker can’t know anywhere near as much financially as Mitt. But he’s a fighter facing a den of vipers whereas Mitt was a sweet religious man who would turn a cheek. We need a fighter. Having Romney as an advisor is a smart idea. In a game of anyone but Bush, Walker has the lead. Having a decent grasp of policies and a willingness to learn more is huge.Being a tough man is critical as well.

    This is the thing. A reasonable and smart man can learn what is necessary to actually do the daily things that a president has to do. But, having a fighter’s mentality is not something one can learn easily. I agree that this is the essential quality — not sufficient but absolutely necessary.

    How about Rubio or Cruz as VP? What I loved about Bush’s presidency was the presence of Dick Cheney — a superb choice, especially as things turned out.

    • #12
  13. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Larry:  That is the thought I am holding onto. GW had a fantastic team. Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice, Bolton, . . .

    I agree with you.

    • #13
  14. user_5186 Inactive
    user_5186
    @LarryKoler

    MarciN:Larry: That is the thought I am holding onto. GW had a fantastic team. Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice, Bolton, . . .

    I agree with you.

    Wow, that’s quite a lineup, isn’t it? I dearly hope that John Bolton is the next Secretary of State. Mitt was smart to sign him up during his campaign.

    And Colin Powell was a decent man during his early tenure as SOS until his ego came to the fore and he proved himself to be a weak man unable to stand up for the truth.

    • #14
  15. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Larry Koler:

    MarciN:Larry: That is the thought I am holding onto. GW had a fantastic team. Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice, Bolton, . . .

    I agree with you.

    Wow, that’s quite a lineup, isn’t it? I dearly hope that John Bolton is the next Secretary of State. Mitt was smart to sign him up during his campaign.

    And Colin Powell was a decent man during his early tenure as SOS until his ego came to the fore and he proved himself to be a weak man unable to stand up for the truth.

    I know.  Right now, I would take Colin Powell in a heartbeat. Even Brent Scowcroft.

    I miss those days.  I slept better, that’s for sure.

    • #15
  16. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Larry, you have ruined my day.

    I did not know Mitt had signed up Bolton for secretary of state.

    Holy cow.

    Go Mitt.

    Republicans, you are sometimes so stupid.

    What a world it would be with John Bolton as the secretary of state.

    Wow.

    I’ve been thinking that I would prefer John Bolton for president than any of the current candidates.

    • #16
  17. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I’m sure Walker will be a good president. I don’t mean to criticize him.

    But, wow, Mitt would have been amazing.

    • #17
  18. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    This is what bothers me about what Walker said in his remarks: He’s listening to his inner circle right now and it’s all anti-Romney. That’s fine. I’m sure it puffs up his ego. He’s hearing so much anti-Romney stuff that he feels perfectly comfortable saying what he said about Romney’s supposedly poor campaigning.

    Well, Walker should know when he should ignore the people around him. There are millions of Republicans who supported Mitt Romney and would do so still. Walker needs their support too right now.

    Why would he tick off the people in the Republican base who would support Romney? Romney is not even running. So there is no pressing need to defeat him. Why bring him up at all?

    I wouldn’t do that. Why would he? It is dumb politically. If Walker’s strength is politics, then I am concerned.

    Cruz does it too.

    I think the candidates are listening to the wrong people.

    I would build a coalition of conservatives, libertarians, and moderates if I wanted to win.

    And I would run against the Democrats, not the Republicans.

    Funny that none of the candidates is afraid that 4 million Romney supporters won’t stay home.

    • #18
  19. user_5186 Inactive
    user_5186
    @LarryKoler

    MarciN, they each need to show they won’t make the mistake that Mitt made and not fight in the general election. Mitt fought in the nomination struggle but wimped out (as a deliberate strategy) in the general election. This is what I was worried about all along and he just seemed to follow the old Republican-loser playbook, to play it safe.

    These guys have to acknowledge this problem first and foremost to have even a chance. This is especially the case with the people who don’t have any big bucks behind them. They have to appeal to the base– and the base believes that Mitt WOULD NOT fight.

    And your last line:

    And I would run against the Democrats, not the Republicans.

    This was the exact opposite formula for Mitt’s whole strategy — go hard against the Republicans because the media will help and play rope-a-dope with the Dems and try to appease the media.

    • #19
  20. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    All that said, I think Romney has thrown his support and resources to Walker.

    I read last week in NRO that Romney has referred his own foreign policy team to Walker. And Walker has some good people too.

    So there’s a lot to be optimistic about with a Walker candidacy.

    • #20
  21. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Larry, I did not follow Romney’s campaign or the primaries.

    But, truthfully, did Romney run against the other Republicans’ positions or make sweeping statements against them personally?

    I’d be surprised if the latter were true.

    Romney opposes all of the candidates on immigration. He still does.

    He’d have to have  asserted his position on that.

    I’ve never heard him attack other candidates on a personal level. He’s always kept it professional.

    But perhaps he deviated in the primaries, and I wouldn’t know that because I didn’t follow it.

    • #21
  22. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    MarciN:This is what bothers me about what Walker said in his remarks: He’s listening to his inner circle right now and it’s all anti-Romney. That’s fine. I’m sure it puffs up his ego. He’s hearing so much anti-Romney stuff that he feels perfectly comfortable saying what he said about Romney’s supposedly poor campaigning.

    Well, Walker should know when he should ignore the people around him. There are millions of Republicans who supported Mitt Romney and would do so still. Walker needs their support too right now.

    Why would he tick off the people in the Republican base who would support Romney?

    Have you actually listened to Walker offer his criticism of Romney?  I think you might find his actual statements less troubling.  Walker isn’t bashing Romney, or attacking his ability as a campaigner.  He offered some public constructive criticism of the campaign back in 2012 when he said Romney should continue the path he’d started by putting Paul Ryan on the ticket and should focus on offering bold, positive reform rather than focusing negatively on the state of Obama’s America: essentially, a choice election.  Romney mostly stuck with a referendum on Obama.  Walker believes events further justified his point of view, and the issue is very relevant today.  That’s not petty criticism, it’s a perfectly legitimate issue for a potential presidential candidate to discuss.

    I don’t think you’ll find Walker simply bashing Romney simply to appeal to a segment of voters.  That simply isn’t his style.

    • #22
  23. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I saw Kerry Healey run against Mitt Romney in Massachusetts.

    It was crazy.

    She staked out three positions–one was on gay marriage and gay adoption, and I don’t remember the other two–that were opposite of Romney’s. The whole time she was running, I was thinking, “Are you kidding? Who do you think voted for Mitt Romney?”

    She lost.

    And I’ve since heard people blame Romney.

    If you take positions opposite the other guy who just won, who do you is voting?

    Too nonsensical to contemplate.

    • #23
  24. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Leigh:

    MarciN:This is what bothers me about what Walker said in his remarks: He’s listening to his inner circle right now and it’s all anti-Romney. That’s fine. I’m sure it puffs up his ego. He’s hearing so much anti-Romney stuff that he feels perfectly comfortable saying what he said about Romney’s supposedly poor campaigning.

    Well, Walker should know when he should ignore the people around him. There are millions of Republicans who supported Mitt Romney and would do so still. Walker needs their support too right now.

    Why would he tick off the people in the Republican base who would support Romney?

    Have you actually listened to Walker offer his criticism of Romney? I think you might find his actual statements less troubling. Walker isn’t bashing Romney, or attacking his ability as a campaigner. He offered some public constructive criticism of the campaign back in 2012 when he said Romney should continue the path he’d started by putting Paul Ryan on the ticket and should focus on offering bold, positive reform rather than focusing negatively on the state of Obama’s America: essentially, a choice election. Romney mostly stuck with a referendum on Obama. Walker believes events further justified his point of view, and the issue is very relevant today. That’s not petty criticism, it’s a perfectly legitimate issue for a potential presidential candidate to discuss.

    I don’t think you’ll find Walker simply bashing Romney simply to appeal to a segment of voters. That simply isn’t his style.

    No, I haven’t listened. I hope to in the near future.

    I’m just ranting based on what I read of Larry Kudlow’s–who I would vote for president in a heartbeat, by the way!  :)–report above.

    And, yes, I hope Romney and Walker work together.

    In my head, I’ve been seeing Romney supporting Walker’s run the way he supported Scott Brown.

    And I’m sure that’s going to happen.

    So I’ll shut up now, lest I screw up the master plan.  :)

    :)

    • #24
  25. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    I don’t think there’s a transcript out there, but this seems to quote most of the substance of Walker’s comments (down under Giuliani’s controversy).

    • #25
  26. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    The reaction of the pro-Walker supporters here is making my point better than I could.

    You guys already feel a sense of loyalty to this candidate.

    My criticism of something Walker said has made you react angrily to me.

    My point is that there are millions of Romney supporters who feel exactly the same way you feel about Walker.

    And I don’t think it is smart for candidates to go out of their way to unnecessarily ignore or tick off those loyal supporters of Mitt Romney.

    If Walker wants to stake out a position on immigration opposite of Mitt Romney’s, that’s one thing. But to just casually throw out nonconstructive criticisms is another.

    I just think it is a dumb political move.

    Especially on money issues. Walker’s private-sector, wealth-generating experience consists of six months with IBM after he graduated from college. IBM is fantastic, and when I first saw it, I was really impressed. IBM was harder to get into than Harvard. But other than that, Walker’s had no private-sector experience. So the idea that “Romney had spent too much time on economic negatives” (and what does that mean?) is a fairly empty criticism in terms of Walker’s own private-sector experience.

    • #26
  27. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Leigh:I don’t think there’s a transcript out there, but this seems to quote most of the substance of Walker’s comments (down under Giuliani’s controversy).

    Thank you, Leigh. I will go read it.

    :)

    • #27
  28. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    MarciN:The reaction of the pro-Walker supporters here is making my point better than I could.

    You guys already feel a sense of loyalty to this candidate.

    My criticism of something Walker said has made you react angrily to me.

    My point is that there are millions of Romney supporters who feel exactly the same way you feel about Walker.

    And I don’t think it is smart for candidates to go out of their way to unnecessarily ignore or tick off those loyal supporters of Mitt Romney.

    If Walker wants to stake out a position on immigration opposite of Mitt Romney’s, that’s one thing. But to just casually throw out nonconstructive criticisms is another.

    I just think it is a dumb political move.

    Marci, I’m not even a confirmed Walker supporter, and I’m certainly not angry.

    But Walker just has not done what you are accusing him of doing.  He simply hasn’t.  I think when you see Larry Kudlow’s phrase that he “bluntly criticized” the Romney campaign you take that as a rhetorical petty shot to appeal to certain primary voters.  It isn’t, as you’ll see if you actually read the comments.  Walker offered a thoughtful, substantial criticism of the Romney campaign’s strategy.  One even Romney’s running mate almost certainly agrees with.  One even Romney himself might now agree with, for all we know.  It’s a constructive and relevant part of the debate approaching 2016.  If that’s out of line, let’s skip primary debates altogether and draw a name out of the hat.

    • #28
  29. user_129539 Member
    user_129539
    @BrianClendinen

    EThompson:

    DocJay:Of course Walker can’t know anywhere near as much financially as Mitt. But he’s a fighter facing a den of vipers whereas Mitt was a sweet religious man who would turn a cheek. We need a fighter. Having Romney as an advisor is a smart idea. In a game of anyone but Bush, Walker has the lead. Having a decent grasp of policies and a willingness to learn more is huge.Being a tough man is critical as well.

    Mitt wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. His father was a car executive; not even close to the $350 million dollar league of his son. You don’t make those kind of donuts in the USA if you’re a lightweight.

    I disagree, you would be surprised out how bad on economics people who are very financially savey in a corporate environment often are. They tend to not be pro union, against high taxes and against regulating everything under the sun, basically a normal Republican. However, they tend to think many regulations are great and say the clash for clunker program and government spending on research and space programs is great for the economy. So never assume someone actually understand macro economics because you really only need to be good at selective areas of micro economics to make a lot a money in business.

    • #29
  30. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    We are cross-posting here :)

    MarciN:So the idea that “Romney had spent too much time on economic negatives” (and what does that mean?) is a fairly empty criticism in terms of Walker’s own private-sector experience.

    I think Larry Kudlow has put complicated phrasing into Walker’s mouth here and muddled the issue slightly.  Based on his past comments, all Walker meant is that Romney spent too much time saying the economy was bad.  That’s a negative strategy that proved uninspiring.

    Walker’s background probably does qualify him to talk about political strategy…

    • #30

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