Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker tells Newsmax that Republicans should make the "failure" of Obamacare the main issue in 2014 in their efforts to win the Senate, hold on to the House — and win back the White House two years later.
He also maintains that above and beyond the glitches involved in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare has had an "abysmal impact" on the nation's economy.
Walker was first elected in 2010. His efforts to cut the state budget ultimately led to a recall election in 2012, which he won by a larger margin than in 2010.
Walker is increasingly being talked about as a potential GOP contender for the 2016 presidential nomination.
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He is co-author of the new book "Unintimidated: A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge."
Gov. Walker told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that the 2016 GOP presidential candidate should be a Washington "outsider," preferably a governor or former governor.
He echoed those sentiments in an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV on Monday.
"The optimism I have for America is born out of the benefits of what governors are doing not just in our state but what we're doing all across America," he says. "People are frustrated with Washington.
"I talk about the many states in particular in the Midwest where Republican governors came in in 2010 and turned things around, and the same thing can be done at the national level."
Walker was able to turn a $3.6 billion deficit into a significant surplus by sticking to his guns in the face of a great deal of controversy.
Wisconsin was able to succeed, as were other Midwestern states, Walker said, because Republicans control both the executive and legislative branches of government.
"In Washington, one of the three legs, the House of Representatives, is controlled by Republicans, but the Senate and the president obviously are Democrats. I look ahead to 2014 and think, we've got to make Obamacare the issue in that election not just because the rollout has failed but because it is a failure in and of itself, and it's a sign of an over-expansive federal government.
"To me that's where the focus has got to be. Don't let the attention be distracted from that. Allow that to be an issue because what we learned in Wisconsin, what I talk about at length in our book
, is ... having Republicans in both houses made all the difference in the world because we could get really big, bold reforms done and that benefited not just Republicans, it benefited the taxpayers as a whole.
"We need to do that nationally. Make the case for the Senate in '14, hold the House, and then hopefully two years later we can really change things with a new Republican president."
Walker says he handed over to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney a finely tuned campaign machine in Wisconsin, and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan was on the ticket, yet Obama won the state.
Asked if Wisconsin is a winnable state for Republicans, Walker responds: "After the election people asked me, could Mitt Romney win? And I said absolutely, if you showed the R next to his name wasn't just for Republican but instead for reform.
"The unfortunate reality is — and I talk about this at length in the chapter of my book about this campaign — that Romney advisers suggested the campaign should be all about Barack Obama and the failures the country was seeing under his economy and things like Obamacare. Unfortunately they didn't give a clear vision of what America would be like under President Mitt Romney.
"That created a void. They allowed the Obama-Biden campaign to define Mitt Romney as a guy whose R next to his name didn't just stand for Republican, it stood for rich guy who only cared about other rich guys. That's not Mitt Romney, that's not who he would have been as president, but if you don't fill that void that's exactly what happened."
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Walker asserts that Republicans have been successful when they "stand by our principles, not back away from them."
"And for any of us looking ahead to the future, that's what we're going to need from Republicans. That why in my book, I tell so many different stories about the optimism I have for state after state where Republicans are showing that sort of visionary optimism that really needs to bring the party together. And unfortunately, we're not seeing that enough in our nation's capital."
Few Wisconsin residents have joined the federal exchanges for Obamacare, and "it's a real mess," Walker declares. "As of last week, we had less than 900 people signed up. We did not do a state exchange, we have a federal exchange in Wisconsin because that's the law, and we did not take the Medicaid expansion.
"And from other governors I've talked to, they're hearing some of the same things not only from Republican governors, but even some Democrats who are very, very concerned about how clearly it is that this Obama administration is in over their head and it's just not working."
Walker adds that "if I had a direct line into the president, and he was listening, I'd tell him that you need to back off on Obamacare. It's not just a failure in terms of the rollout, it's not just a failure in terms of getting people signed up, it has had an abysmal impact on our nation's economy.
"We certainly see it in Wisconsin when we hear employer after employer who are very concerned about the uncertainty that Obamacare brings. If he wants to get this country working again, if he wants some stability back, I'd figure out a way to postpone [Obamacare], at a minimum.
"I don't think he'll ever be at a point during his presidency where he's willing to completely repeal it, as some have called for, including myself, but at least postpone the start of that because it's not only not working in terms of a signup, it's causing a huge wet blanket on the nation's economy and the possible recovery we would have.
"My hope is, for all of our sakes, he starts listening to people not only in the Republican Party but increasingly more in his own party who feel the same way."
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