To make a conservative comeback, Republicans will have to win the "Obama-Walker" voters who embrace a message of hope and reform, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Thursday.
"There are independent, reform-minded voters in every state," Walker wrote in an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal.
"In times of crisis, they want leadership—from either party."
Despite a contentious recall effort in 2012
over a law curbing collective bargaining powers for public sector workers, Walker said he won over voters at the center of the political spectrum.
"... we won the recall by a bigger margin than in the gubernatorial election in 2010," he said. "And here is where the results get intriguing: Exit polls showed that roughly one in six voters who cast their ballots for me in the June 2012 recall also planned to vote for [President] Obama a few months later."
Calling them "Obama-Walker voters," Walker claimed 11 percent of Wisconsin voters support both their Republican governor and Democratic president.
"There are probably no two people in public life who are more philosophically opposite—yet more than one in 10 approve of us both," he said. "To make a conservative comeback, Republicans need to win these Obama-Walker voters and their equivalents across the country."
Walker said it's foolish to think the only way the GOP can win the center is to move toward the center.
"If this were true, Barack Obama would not be president today—and I would not be governor of Wisconsin," he said.
"The way Republicans can win those in the middle is not by abandoning their principles. ... The way to win the center is to lead."
If conservative principles were the problem, he added, "then why are so many Republican governors winning elections by campaigning on them?"
Since Obama took office in 2009, Walker wrote, "the GOP has gone from controlling both the legislature and governor's mansion in nine states to 23 states today. Not one sitting Republican governor has lost a general election since 2007."
"Republicans did not win those races by running from principles," he argued. "They won by applying principles in ways that are relevant to the lives of citizens."
"Republicans need to do more than simply say no to Mr. Obama and his party's big-government agenda," he wrote. "They can offer Americans positive solutions for the nation's challenges—to reduce dependency, and create hope, opportunity, and upward mobility for all citizens. They need to make not just the economic case for conservative reforms but the moral case as well..."
"Americans reward leaders who offer positive solutions, keep their promises and get results," he wrote. "If Republicans do that, Americans will stand with them. I know because they stood with me."
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