HH: Governor Walker, welcome, good to have you.
SW: Hey, great to be with you. Thanks for having me on.
HH: It’s been a long time since we talked, and obviously the lead story this afternoon is what’s going on in Kiev. I’m wondering, as a governor, do you pay much attention to these sorts of stories? Or is this above your paygrade and you don’t?
SW: No, I pay attention to what’s going on around the world. You’re increasing been frustrated in a world that’s filled with uncertainty that we’re right now, with our President, in a lot of, what I saw under Ronald Reagan was he made it clear he meant what he said, he we were going to do it, and that our allies had great comfort and our adversaries think twice. And unfortunately, we don’t have that in the world right now.
HH: Now we’ve got fiasco underway in Kiev, we had Leopoldo Lopez arrested in Venezuela yesterday, and the Middle East in turmoil. Now Hillary’s legacy is she lost South America, she lost the Middle East, now she’s losing Ukraine. Does she really seem like a presidential candidate to you?
SW: No, it’s pretty shocking. That was going to be her bread and butter, between that and obviously the horrible tragedy in Benghazi, it’s not much of a track record out there. But it goes not just to that position. It goes to the large issue of the presidency. I was talking last year with George Schultz and asking him about Syria, and it was interesting, he started telling me a story of how going into World War II, of course, he was a Marine in World War II, and he said his sergeant in boot camp told him that his firearm was going to be his best friend, he needed to sleep with it, eat with it. But the most important thing you should know is never to point it at anyone he wasn’t prepared to shoot. And as much as that sounds like a good old war story from a World War II veteran, the reality is it’s a great lesson for foreign policy, that you need to show that if you’re going to say something as a country, you’ve got to mean it. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough of that these days.
HH: So Governor Walker, obviously, you have reelection to worry about, and you’re focused on your campaign. There’s a good economy and a recovery underway in Wisconsin. The Ronnie Earl of Wisconsin has laid down his weapons and stopped trying to indict you on false charges. So everything looks good for you. But if you do decide to run for president, are you intimidated by the prospect of Hillary, whose got more frequent flyer miles than the airlines combined standing across the stage and dropping names and the places she’s been against this record of failure after failure after failure.
SW: I think the biggest problem that Secretary of State Clinton has is much bigger than just that, it’s that she is throughout her adult life, she has been a product of Washington, whether she’s been there, worked there, Secretary of State, United States Senator, not only first lady, but back to her days working on the Hill. And I think Americans now more than ever have had it with the whole bunch in Washington, and they want somebody to come in, actually, they want a group of people to come in and completely turn things around and reform things, and put the power back in the hands of the hard-working people of this country. So I think for her, her connection, her longevity connected to Washington, more than anything, is going to be a huge liability for her.
HH: Was she a failure as Secretary of State?
SW: Well, I have a hard time pointing to many successes. I mean, you look at, you mention the problems around the world. She was good at flying around and traveling, but I have a hard time seeing any major victories for this country, and for what it means across the world up there. And again, there’s a lot of uncertainty in this world, and now more than ever, one of the things I forget about, people talk, you know, nostalgically about Ronald Reagan. I was someone who came of age when he became the President. I just had turned 13 two days before he was elected in 1980. But I look at that, and I remember fondly not only because he was a great communicator, and what I like more than anything was his great optimism. But I think back to early in his presidency when he took on the air traffic controllers. That, in effect, seemed like a domestic policy, but I would argue it was kind of the beginning of the end of the Cold War. Why? Because people knew anywhere around the world that this guy was serious, and he meant something, that he was going to act on it, and amazingly, actually, during his presidency, he had very limited military engagement, because people knew they weren’t going to mess with the United States.
HH: Yeah, President Obama drew another red line today, a line. Do you think anyone takes that seriously, Governor Walker?
SW: No, it’s like anything in life. I mean, you go, even though I’ve got two boys who are in college now, but when Tonette and I had the boys when they were younger, it’s the same thing for any of us who are parents. We know if you make threats, and if you say you do that again you’re going to do this, you’d better deliver on it. If you don’t, maybe they have to sit in the corner, grounded or whatever it might be. You don’t deliver on it, your kids after while are just going to assume you’re not going to follow through. That’s what’s happening in America.
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HH: Governor, the Daily Caller reported today that among others, Joe Scarborough, Bobby Jindal, Pete King, Rick Santorum, are all headed to Nashua, New Hampshire on March 14th and 15th for the Northeastern Republican Leadership Conference. Obviously, you’ve got a reelection campaign to win for governor. But are you losing ground in the presidential race by governing well and campaigning for reelection in Wisconsin?
SW: No, I’m not. I’m flattered that people have even mentioned me in the same breath as some of those other names out there. But the bottom line is the reason people are talking about us even in that vein is because of what we’ve done in Wisconsin. You know, three years ago, I came in with a $3.6 billion dollar budget deficit. And today, we have, our finance committee in the legislature, approved my plan to take the nearly billion dollars in a new surplus we just announced last month, and return it to the taxpayers, both in terms of property tax relief, income tax relief, and immediate relief in terms of changing withholding, and putting more money back into people’s paychecks. We do big, bold things like that, people will continue to talk about not just me, but more importantly, Wisconsin.
HH: Now the left, really, though, hates you. I got a little bit of that love today.
SW: You’re right.
HH: Here’s Bob Beckel talking about me today early on The Five.
BB: I listened to that Hugh Hewitt, who I actually like personally, but he’s a right wing jerk in many other ways. He said Obama’s responsible for losing Eastern Europe. Come on.
HH: So Governor Walker, I’m used to this, but they really hate you like twenty times that. How do you deal with that?
SW: Yeah, in fact, in our book, Unintimidated, I tell the story the stories of not only what we did to take on the big government union bosses years ago in Wisconsin, but literally, what it put my family through, the death threats against me, the death threats against my wife, our two sons, referencing where my then-father-in-law lived, where my parents were at, just really amazing things against me, against our family, against my cabinet, against my senators. The good news is that once I got out of the state capital and got around the state, the way you offset that is you meet good people who not only support you politically, but more often than not, the most affirming thing for us was people at factories and farms and small businesses that would tell us they were praying for us. And that just made all the difference in the world, and it still does today.
HH: So are you looking forward to this reelect campaign, Governor? They’ve basically given up. I think they’ve given up on beating you.
SW: Well, you know, the unions are still, for whatever reasons out there, shifting money out of Washington and targeting me and a handful of other particularly battleground governors, guys like Rick Snyder and John Kasich, and Tom Corbett and Rick Scott down in Florida. But if people look at the facts, we’ve got a great record, we’ve got a great story to tell. They tried to intimidate us. They tried to take us on. In the end, we put the power back in the hands of the hard-working taxpayers, and as long as we can tell that story out there, you know, for me, one of the best things about a recall election was they put these tens of millions of dollars and from around the country, and we had literally tens of thousands of $25 and $50 dollar donations. People went to www.scottwalker.com and helped us out. And that made all the difference in the world.
HH: Well, keep coming back, Governor Walker. We wish you good luck in the reelection. And it’s going to be interesting to watch everything unfold in 2015 and 2016. We know that you’re on a lot of the top of the lists, and we look forward to chatting about you throughout the year.
End of interview.