Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker formally announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for President in 2016. Walker gave his remarks during an event Monday evening in Waukesha, WI.
Below is the transcript of his speech as prepared for delivery:
I love America.
As kids, my brother David and I enjoyed going over to the home of a neighbor by the name of Claire Congdon. In our small town, Mr. Congdon was something of a legend. He served our country in both World War I and World War II.
Then, like so many other veterans, he returned home and continued to serve his community. Mr. Congdon helped out with the concession stand at Legion baseball, he was active in our church and he was one of the leaders of my Boy Scout troop.
Each year before Memorial Day, he would organize all of us Scouts as we put flags on the graves of the fallen. He loved America. It was impossible to be around him and not share his love for God and Country.
Thirty years ago, Mr. Congdon’s American Legion Post in our small town of Delavan, Wisconsin, helped me attend Badger Boys State. This is where I learned about state and local government. It was then my honor to be chosen to represent Wisconsin at a program called Boys Nation.
There I met a Vietnam veteran from Georgia by the name of Bob Turner. Bob and the other veterans who helped run the program did more than teach us about the federal government and national elections, they shared their love for our country, and instilled within me the importance of public service as we seek to protect our freedom.
These veterans remind me that America is a can-do kind of country. We just have a government in Washington that can’t seem to get the job done. Washington, or as I call it, 68 square miles surrounded by reality.
The good news is that there is still time left to turn things around.
To do this, we need new, fresh leadership; leadership with big, bold ideas from outside of Washington; the kind of leadership that can actually get things done – like we have here in Wisconsin.
Since I’ve been Governor, we took on the unions and won.
We reduced taxes by $2 billion and lowered taxes on individuals, employers and property. In fact, property taxes are lower today than they were in 2010. How many Governors can say that?
Since I’ve been Governor, we passed lawsuit reform and regulatory reform. We defunded Planned Parenthood and enacted pro-life legislation. We passed Castle Doctrine and concealed carry. And we now require a photo ID to vote in the State of Wisconsin.
If our reforms can work in a blue state like Wisconsin, they can work anywhere in America.
Traveling the country, I’ve heard people say that they are tired of politicians who only tell them what they’re against and why they should vote against someone.
Americans want to vote FOR something and FOR someone.
So let me tell you what I’m for: I’m for Reform. Growth. Safety.
I’m for transferring power from Washington to the hard-working taxpayers in states all across the country. That’s real reform.
I’m for building a better economy where everyone can live their piece of the American Dream. That’s pro-growth.
I’m for protecting our children and grandchildren from radical Islamic terrorism and other threats in the world. That’s true safety.
My record shows that I know how to fight and win. Now, more than ever, we need a President who will fight and win for America.
First, we need to be for real reform in Washington.
Our big, bold reforms in Wisconsin took the power from the big government special interests and put it firmly into the hands of the hard-working taxpayers.
Today, people elected by local taxpayers actually get to run the schools. Our reforms ended seniority and tenure. Now we can hire and fire based on merit and pay based on performance. We can put the best and the brightest in the classroom.
Four years later: our graduation rates are up, third grade reading scores are higher and Wisconsin’s ACT scores are now second best in the country.
Government that is closest to the people is usually the best. This is why we should move power and money out of Washington and send it back to our states and communities in key areas like Medicaid, transportation, workforce development and education.
Sadly though, Washington seems to measure success by how many people are dependent on the government. Instead, we should measure it by just the opposite: by how many people are no longer dependent on the government.
We understand that true freedom and prosperity don’t come from the mighty hand of the government, they come from empowering people to live their own lives and control their own destinies through the dignity that comes from work.
You see, my first job was washing dishes at the Countryside Restaurant. Then, I moved up to the big times and started flipping hamburgers in high school at McDonald’s to save up for college.
My dad was a small-town pastor and my mom worked as a part-time secretary and bookkeeper. My grandparents were farmers who didn’t have indoor plumbing until my mom went off to junior high school. My dad’s dad – my Grandpa Walker – was a machinist for 42 years at Barber-Coleman.
Looking back, I realize my brother David and I didn’t inherit fame and fortune from our family. What we got was the belief that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can do and be anything you want. That’s the American Dream. And that is worth fighting for.
Helping adults who are able to work transition from government dependence to true independence will help more people live that dream.
In Wisconsin, we enacted a program that says that adults who are able to work must be enrolled in one of our job training programs before they can get a welfare check. Now, as of the budget I just signed, we are also making sure they can take a drug test.
When I proposed this, the status quo defenders cried that we were making it harder to get government assistance. My response? No, we’re making it easier to get a job.
Strong families help too. We know that children who are raised in a household where both parents are involved are more likely to finish school, find a good job and live a life free of government dependence.
The federal government needs to support strong families by ending the marriage penalty and by reforming welfare programs that discourage fathers from being involved in the lives of their children.
I know how important both my parents were to my brother David and I when we were growing up.
That’s why Tonette and I try to be good role models for Matt and Alex and we are proud of the leaders that each have become today.
We want to ensure that they – and every other son and daughter – have the opportunity to grow up in a more free and prosperous country.
To ensure that prosperity, we need to be for a pro-growth economic plan that helps individuals and families earn, save and achieve their piece of the American Dream.
Instead of the top-down, government-knows-best approach we hear from politicians in Washington, we need to build the economy from the ground up in a way that is new and fresh, organic and dynamic.
As long as you don’t violate the health and safety of your neighbors – go out and start your own career, build your own business, live your own life.
That’s freedom – the freedom that serves as the cornerstone of the American Dream.
To help live that dream, we have a plan to help the people of this country create more jobs and higher wages.
First, we must repeal ObamaCare. That’s right, repeal the so-called Affordable Care Act entirely and put patients and families back in charge of their health care decisions – not the federal government.
As Governor, I approved Wisconsin joining the lawsuit against ObamaCare on my first day in office. We need a President who – on the first day in office – will call on Congress to pass a full repeal of ObamaCare.
Next, we need to rein in the federal government’s out-of-control regulations that are like a wet blanket on the economy. Yes, enforce common sense rules – but don’t add more bureaucratic red tape.
In Wisconsin, I called for an overhaul of Wisconsin’s regulatory process on my first day as Governor. We can do the same in Washington, then we can act to repeal Obama’s bad regulations.
Then, put into place an “all-of-the-above” energy policy that uses the abundance of what God has given us here in America and on this continent. We are now an energy-rich country and we can literally fuel our economic recovery.
We need a President who will approve the Keystone pipeline on the very first day in office and then seek to level the playing field for all sources of energy.
Next, we need to help people get the education and the skills they need to succeed. This will help people find careers that pay far more than the minimum wage.
In Wisconsin, we reformed our public schools and gave families as many quality choices as possible because I trust parents to make the right decision for their children. I believe that every child deserves access to a great education – be it in a traditional public, charter, choice, private, virtual or home school environment.
We want high standards, but we want them set at the local level. No Common Core. No nation-wide school board.
I will push to take the power and money out of Washington and send it to our states and our schools, where it is more effective, more efficient and more accountable to the people of America. Think about it: where would you rather spend your dollar – in Washington or at your child’s school?
And then, we need to lower the burden on hard-working taxpayers to improve take-home pay. And we need tax levels that are competitive for job creators to bring jobs back from overseas to put more of our fellow Americans back to work.
We can do it. We did it in Wisconsin and we can do it in Washington, too.
So, why do I focus so much attention on tax relief? Well, some of you know that Tonette and I like to shop at Kohl’s. Over the years, I’ve learned that if I’m going to buy a new shirt, I go to the rack that says that the shirt was $29.99 but now is $19.99. Then, I take the coupon from the Sunday paper up to the cashier or I take out the flyer that we get in the mail that gives us 15 or 20% off – or even 30% if we are really lucky.
Then, Tonette reaches into her purse and pulls out some Kohl’s cash. Next thing you know, they’re paying us to buy that shirt.
Well, not really. So how does a company like Kohl’s make money?
Volume. They make it off of volume.
You see, they could charge you $29.99 and a few of you could afford it or they can lower the price and broaden the base and make more money off of volume.
That’s what I think about your money – the taxpayers’ money. The government could charge the higher rates and a few of you could afford it. Or, we can lower the rates and broaden the base and increase the volume of people participating in our economy.
Years ago, we saw this kind of plan work well under President Ronald Reagan. Back then, it was called the Laffer Curve. Today, I call it the Kohl’s Curve because I believe that you can spend your own money far better than the government – and that will help grow the economy.
To prosper, however, we need a safe and stable world. Let me tell you why I’m for true safety. To me, the commander in chief has a sacred duty to keep the people of America safe.
During my lifetime, the best president on national security and foreign policy was a Governor from California. Under his leadership, we rebuilt our military, stood up for our friends, stood up to our enemies and – without apology – stood for American values: this led to one of the most peaceful times in modern American history.
Today sadly, under the Obama/Clinton doctrine, America is leading from behind and we’re headed toward a disaster.
We have a President who drew a line in the sand and allowed it to be crossed. A President who called ISIS the JV squad, Yemen a success story and Iran a place we can do business with. Iran…think about that.
My brother David and I used to tie ribbons around the tree in front of our house during the 444 days that Iran held 52 Americans hostage. One of them was Kevin Hermening who grew up down the road in Oak Creek. He was the youngest hostage – a Marine working at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
Kevin Hermening is here today. He knows that Iran is not a place we should be doing business with. Iran hasn’t changed much since he and the other hostages were released on President Reagan’s first day in office.
Looking ahead, we need to terminate the bad deal with Iran on Day One, put in place crippling economic sanctions and convince our allies to do the same.
Earlier this year, the President proclaimed that climate change is the greatest threat to future generations. Well Mr. President, I respectfully disagree. The greatest threat to future generations is radical Islamic terrorism and we need to do something about it.
That means lifting the political restrictions on our military personnel in Iraq so they can help our Kurd and Sunni allies reclaim land taken by ISIS. On behalf of your children and mine, I’d rather take the fight to them than wait for them to bring the fight to us.
We need to acknowledge that Israel is our ally and start treating Israel like an ally. There should be absolutely no daylight between our two countries. That’s why I went to Israel earlier this year and met with both the Prime Minister and the opposition leader to express my wholehearted support for the unshakeable bonds between our two countries.
We need to stop the aggression of Russia into sovereign nations. Putin bases his policies on Lenin’s old principle: probe with bayonets, if you encounter mush, push; if you encounter steel, stop.
With Obama and Clinton, Putin has encountered years of mush. The United States needs a foreign policy that puts steel in front of our enemies.
We need to stop China’s cyber attacks, stop their territorial expansion into international waters and speak out about their abysmal human rights record.
We need to have the capacity to protect our national security interests – here and abroad – and those of our allies. That begins with rebuilding the Defense budget at least to the levels recommended by Secretary Gates.
We need to honor our men and women in uniform by giving them the resources they need to keep us safe – and then give them the quality and timely healthcare they deserve when they return home.
But I believe that the best way we can honor them is by fighting to win. This is important because our goal is peace, but there will be times when America must fight.
And if we must, Americans fight to win.
The world needs to know that there is no better friend and no worse enemy than the United States of America.
America is a great country. We just need to lead again.
It’s not too late. We can do it because we’ve done it before.
Veterans like Claire Congdon and Bob Turner remind me that what makes America great, what makes us exceptional, what makes us the greatest country in the world, is that all throughout our history during times of crisis – be it economic or fiscal, spiritual or military – what makes America amazing, is that there have been men and women of courage who thought more about future generations than they did about their own political futures.
This is one of those times in American history.
After a great deal of thought and a whole lot of prayer, we are proud to announce that I am officially running to serve as your President of the United States of America.
Tonette and I want our sons Matt and Alex – and all of the other sons and daughters like them – to grow up in a country that is at least as great as the one we inherited.
Americans deserve a President who will fight and win for them.
Someone who will stand up for the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Someone who will stand up for our religious rights and all of our other Constitutional rights. Someone who will stand up for America.
You see, It doesn’t matter if you’re from a big city, a suburb or a small town, I will fight and win for you.
Healthy or sick, born or unborn, I will fight and win for you.
Young or old – or somewhere in between – I will fight and win for you.
Over the years, I’ve met some amazing people who came here from other places around the world. The people I’ve met tell me that they didn’t come here to become dependent on the government.
No, the reason they came was because America is one of the few places left in the world where it doesn’t matter what class you were born into or what your parents did for a living. In America, you can do and be anything you want.
Here, the opportunity is equal for all, but the outcome is up to each and every one of us.
You see, there is a reason we just took a day off to celebrate the 4th of July and not April 15th. Because in America, we celebrate our independence from the government and not our dependence on it.
That’s why I love America. That’s why we love America. That’s why – working together – we can fight and win for America.
God bless you. God bless our troops. And may God bless the United States of America.