Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker joined me to open today’s show to discuss his endorsement of Senator Ted Cruz for president:
HH: The big story all week politically is going to be the state of Wisconsin until the voting is closed on Tuesday night and the state’s many, many delegates awarded – 18 statewide, three by each of the eight Congressional districts. Yesterday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker endorsed United States Senator Ted Cruz. Lots of news made at a town hall last night, but I begin with that. Governor Scott Walker, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show, good to talk with you again, Governor.
SW: Hey, Hugh, it’s great to talk to you as well. Thanks for having me on.
HH: I appreciate you being available. In the aftermath of your endorsement of Ted Cruz yesterday, they had the town halls last night, and again, Donald Trump said bad things about Wisconsin. What do you make of those remarks?
SW: Well, amazingly, even places like Politifact and the Washington Post just point out that what Donald Trump’s saying about Wisconsin is just false. I think the Post gave him four Pinocchios, Politifact rated him mostly false. The reality is there’s a reason why we have won three times in a blue state like Wisconsin. It’s because our conservative reforms actually work. The economy is better, our finances are better, are schools are better, our state’s better, and voters here know it.
HH: Now also last night, he got into a number of conversations, both Donald Trump did and Ted Cruz, that made news today. Let me talk about the abortion question. Last night, Donald Trump said women should be punished for having an abortion. Today, he clarified it should be the doctors who should be punished. Pro-life people actually know the answers to these trick questions by people like Chris Matthews in settings like that one. You know, Chris is a liberal, he wants to trip up a pro-lifer. What did that exchange tell you?
SW: Well, unfortunately, we see with a number of these contrasts, that we see really one candidate is a solid, consistent conservative who has been that way, will be that way, and continues to be that way and will be that way in the future, and that’s Ted Cruz. It’s part of the reason why I’m proud to endorse his candidacy, is because this isn’t something he just came to. This is an issue he’s held his entire life. This is something he certainly held in state office, and now as United States Senator, whether it’s being pro-life and actually fighting to defund Planned Parenthood, or whether it’s standing up on any number of other issues, fighting Obamacare, fighting for, from a Constitutional conservative standpoint of restoring power back to the states, and more importantly, into the hands of the people, fighting, as Reagan did, to restore our military strength, and understanding that means not only a strong military, but powerful alliances like we have with NATO and others. These are things that Ted Cruz isn’t just coming late to the game on. These are things he has consistently said, and more importantly, acted on, and will as president.
HH: Now you’ve been on the stage debating all of them, and then you exited the race early and said it’s important for the party to rally around a conservative. Did that happen early enough, in your view? Or are we headed to a crack up in Cleveland?
SW: It did not happen early enough. The good news is just as Wisconsin led the way five years ago, showing that conservative reforms are alive and well in the states, and the movement is still alive and well in the states, I think Wisconsin, again next Tuesday, can show the same thing and hopefully turn the table so that Ted Cruz not only wins in my state, but starts to move aggressively down the path towards getting the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the party’s nomination going into the convention. And I just firmly believe he’s the guy that can not only win the nomination, he can unite the party. And once and for all, we can shift our focus onto Hillary Clinton. And when you see the contrast, I think even independents, even independents in my state and other battleground states across the country can see the difference between Ted Cruz. But whether you agree with him on everything or not, he is a principled elected official. He’s a principled leader. He’s, in my case, thankfully, a principled, conservative, common sense conservative versus Hillary Clinton, who even Bernie Sanders supporters know that by and large, she will say and do anything to get elected. I love that contrast. I think we win with that kind of contrast.
HH: Now last night, Senator Cruz was asked by Anderson Cooper about the convention, and whether it would be contested. Here’s what he said in response.
TC: And if that happens, then it becomes a battle for the delegates. But the only two names on the ballot are going to be Donald Trump and me. On the rules, those are the only two people that could be voted on. And I think in that situation, we’re in a very strong position to earn the 1,237 votes from the delegates who were elected by the people.
HH: Now he didn’t say as much, but that’s an endorsement of the so-called Rule 40, which was the Rule 40 of the 2012 convention. It’s not actually a rule for 2016. Scott Walker, you know it wouldn’t be good form to deny a home state governor the opportunity to be nominated. Do you agree that Rule 40 ought to be kept?
SW: Well, I think the bottom line, the best case scenario for this party and for this country is that Ted Cruz wins on Tuesday, which I believe he will. And ultimately, I think that’s the turning point. It gets him into a pattern which he can win overwhelmingly the remaining delegates that’s needed to get to the 1,237 before then, and we don’t even have to go through all this.
HH: Yeah, but help me out here.
SW: I think that’s why Wisconsin’s vote is so critically important on Tuesday, and I’m hopeful the voters of my state in the primary will see what I’ve seen, and that is that Ted Cruz is the right person on policy, on principle. And practically, he is really, of the candidates left, the only one that really, the only realistic choice to say we need somebody who could both win the nomination and who can carry the day against Hillary Clinton in the fall.
HH: Now you’re skilled at not answering a question, but I’m skilled at asking it twice. Now there is a Marquette Law School poll out today that shows Ted Cruz at 40%, Donald Trump 30%, John Kasich 21%. That’s a big lead in a state. Then you come in on top of that. Then the data machine kicks in. Ted Cruz is going to win Wisconsin. I’ve said that. But he’s not going to get to 1,237, and Donald Trump’s not going to get to 1,237. So as he admitted last night, if that happens, there’ll be a contested convention. So my specific question, should a sitting governor who won his state be denied the opportunity to have his name put in nomination, Scott Walker?
SW: I think that whether that rule’s invoked or whether or not you get a governor or anybody else gets a chance to be on the ballot, I think the bottom line, though, it still boils down to, it’s either going to be Cruz, or it’s going to be Trump, the way things are lined up right now. And I just think if Ted Cruz turns the corner on Tuesday, he’s going to be well-positioned to make the case hopefully before, but ideally at the convention that he’s got the momentum, he’s in the right position, he’s earned the right. And let me just say one other thing on top of that. And I know you haven’t said this, but others in the media have talked about a brokered convention. I want to be clear. Republicans don’t have brokered conventions.
SW: The Democrats do. That’s why they have super delegates. They give disproportionate power to the party elites. My friend, Reince Priebus, isn’t going to have any more of a vote on this than any other delegate out there. So I love the fact that we lay it all out in public. We elect people to be delegates. If there’s 1,237, we have a nominee. If we don’t, we have it open and transparent. No matter what, the bottom line is the American people will know, and I believe the American people will see that we unite behind Ted Cruz, because he’s got the right policy, he’s got the right philosophical view, and he’s the candidate who we not only can nominate, but who could ultimately win against Hillary Clinton.
HH: Now Governor Walker, you’re moving around in the pocket like Aaron Rodgers. But I’m going to keep blitzing here.
HH: I mean, you really are. You’re moving around, and I’m trying to tackle you on this Rule 40. Are you going to be on the rules…
SW: Well, you know why, Hugh, You know the reason why is, I just and for me, and I appreciate the fact you’re asking about it, and I think that’s an appropriate question at the time. But I just look between now and Tuesday, and you know, my focus is on making sure that Ted Cruz can win. I think that’s important for my state of Wisconsin to make a difference. I think it’s important that he does well here. And then I think that sets the momentum. If we get to that point, we’ll cross that bridge in the future. But it’s the same reason why in the last couple of days, you have a lot of other folks who have interviewed me in the national press and gaggles here in Wisconsin, have wanted to know about, you know, picking fights with Donald Trump. I said I didn’t pick Ted Cruz to be the person I endorsed because he was a default candidate. I’m actually supporting Ted Cruz because he’s the right candidate at the right time to move my state and my country forward. And those, to me, are the important issues we should be talking about. I mean, I love the idea, I’d love to talk all day about how he’s got a plan to get rid of the IRS, and have a 10% flat tax, about how he wants to restore the military, something you and I both feel passionately about, and something that this president has just done horrendous damage to going forward. I love the fact that he wants to take major portions of the federal government and either eliminate those agencies, or in many cases, send those powers and responsibilities back to the states where they’re closer to the people out there. Those are the things I think people care about.
HH: I’m feeling like a Vikings defensive end now. I’m winded. I give up.
HH: Now let me move to the free trade issue. Donald Trump keeps saying free trade is bad for Wisconsin. And I just, I’ve got a minute and a half. You know, I’m a big free trader. I don’t think it’s bad for anyone, and I’ll talk to Donald about that when he comes back on. But what do you think is on the ground true. You know, Janesville did close. They did lose that plant. But is trade good for the Badger state?
SW: Trade is incredibly important. I mean, one of the biggest components to trade is agriculture. Our farmers heavily depend on trade. Over 90% of the world’s purchasing power is outside of the United States. We desperately need good trade relations to fuel our state’s economy in manufacturing, agriculture and otherwise. And what happened in Janesville wasn’t because of trade. It was because of what happened in Detroit. And that’s a whole other ballgame. And the last answer you want with that is more government. I think you open up trade, you level the playing field, you say we’re going to have free trade and fair trade. You can do that going forward. And that’s something, again, a true common sense conservative like Ted Cruz is going to make that sort of thing happen.
HH: Governor Rodgers, I mean, Governor Walker, thank you. Always a pleasure, say hello to Tonette for me. I appreciate it so much, Governor Walker, great to catch up with you again.
End of interview.