Mitt Romney can capture Wisconsin and win the presidential election in November, but only by taking a page from the playbook that propelled conservatives to victory in Wisconsin’s Tuesday recall election, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says.
Walker’s comments came in an exclusive NewsmaxTV interview the day after his historic win, which made him the only governor to ever survive a recall election. His triumph came despite an intense effort by Big Labor to punish him and other Wisconsin Republicans, after they enacted fiscal reforms that challenged public-sector unions.
See the full Newsmax interview with Scott Walker:
Wisconsin is emerging as a key swing state on the national political chessboard following Walker’s triumph over union-backed Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett Tuesday, by a 54 percent to 46 percent margin. Exit polls Tuesday showed President Obama nursing a 7 point lead over Romney among Wisconsin voters -- much closer than Obama’s battle there with Sen. John McCain in 2008.
To win in Wisconsin, Walker says, Romney must “hone in on particular issues” and convince Badger State voters that he’s serious about bold reforms. But Walker told Newsmax the most important issue is not what most pundits assume.
“I think the overwhelming issue of this election -- people say it’s about jobs, it’s really about freedom and prosperity,” said Walker. “What I mean by that is, moderation and frugality in governing is something we defined in our Constitution. Moderation and frugality in government leads to freedom and prosperity for our people.
“This is really about putting more of the freedoms that are endowed by our Creator, defined by our Constitution, and defended every single day by the men and women in uniform of this great country, those are things that Gov. Romney should be standing up and very clearly, firmly defining that he’s going to stand for,” Walker urged.
As the country returns to more reasonable fiscal policies, Walker told Newsmax, voters will naturally prosper.
He seemed to add a cautionary note for the former Massachusetts governor, however, adding: “You can’t do that if your definition of government is more government dependency, if it’s more government spending, if it’s higher taxes.
“If he lays a clear contrast out there, there are plenty of voters -- whether they believe they are Republicans or not -- there are plenty of voters who share that belief, who understand really the path we’re on is unsustainable at the federal level. And I think Gov. Romney, if he has a clear, aggressive, and repetitive message, can be competitive in Wisconsin,” Walker said.
The Obama campaign recently conceded that Wisconsin, where the president defeated Sen. John McCain by a whopping 14 points, now is up for grabs. The last time it opted for a Republican presidential candidate was 1984.
Other highlights from the exclusive Newsmax interview:
• His ultimate objective in taking on the unions was “not just to balance our budgets today, but help both the state and local governments balance their budgets for many years to come. And that’s really what it’s all about.”
• He confessed to being “so eager to fix things, I ran out and fixed them, then talked about them. Most politicians talk about them, and never fix them.” He counseled future reformers to do both: Consult with various constituencies, but then move forward to fix problems for the sake of the public.
• The real problem isn’t union workers but union bosses, he said. “I think the hard-working union employees, be they public or private, are much different than the union bosses,” Walker said. “For a lot of the union bosses, it was about power, it was about their own power, and it wasn’t about empowering the employees.
• He also noted he received surprising union support, according to exit polls.
“In our case, I think the more people look at it, the more clear it was particularly if you’re a private-sector union member, that what we asked for from public employees was very reasonable, it was very fair considering what the private sector pays. A lot of these union members realized they’re taxpayers too, they don’t want their money wasted, they don’t want their taxes going up. That’s a powerful message we shouldn’t back away from.”
• Walker said he has no intention of getting caught up right now in the buzz that he’s a likely candidate for future national office. “I’m really 100 percent focused right now on Wisconsin, and really haven’t had any time to think about anything else, and probably won’t for some time,” he said. “So I’ll leave that to the pundits.”
Walker added that he stands ready to reach out to Wisconsin Democrats to move the state forward.
“Actions speak louder than words,” he said. “So even simple things, like inviting the legislature over next week for some brats and burgers and maybe even some Wisconsin beer.”
Said Walker: “I think if we stay focused and help small businesses create more jobs, we stay focused in helping improve the overall quality of life for the people of our state, that’s something that I think can bring people together regardless of who they voted for in Tuesday’s election.”
See other exclusive excerpts:
Gov. Walker Begs Off Potential VP Talk
Gov. Walker: My Win Shows the Way for Other States
Gov. Walker to Newsmax: Wisconsin Becoming a Swing State
Walker to Romney: 'Parallel What We Did' To Win
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