Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told Republicans in New Hampshire on Saturday that "there is no end to how much better things can be" in the United States with "common-sense" GOP leadership in Washington.
"If you put common-sense Republican, conservative leadership in place, if that team works together, there is no end to the good things that can happen," he said to applause at the Republican Leadership Summit at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nashua. "If we do that in Washington — with a Republican House, Senate, and president — there is no end to how much better things can be."
Walker's appearance capped two days of speeches by 19 GOP presidential hopefuls and three declared candidates at the "First in the Nation" Summit sponsored by the New Hampshire Republican Party.
The event — before which many hopefuls traveled the state touring factories, greeted students and held town-hall meetings — was touted as a kick-off to the 2016 campaign. The Granite State holds the nation's first primaries on Jan. 26, the week after the Iowa caucuses.
Other Saturday speakers included declared candidates Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky; South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; billionaire businessman Donald Trump; and former Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Carly Fiorina.
Introduced by former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, who served in the George H.W. Bush White House, Walker emphasized his accomplishments as Wisconsin's chief executive and drew contrasts among him, President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who last Sunday announced her bid for the Democratic nomination.
Walker noted how he took a $3.6 billion budget deficit he inherited and turned it into a $517 million surplus, has a fully-funded state pension system, reduced the ability to file frivolous lawsuits — as well as signed a concealed-carry law and right-to-work legislation.
"We no longer fund Planned Parenthood," the governor said.
He referenced his battle with the unions over some of his reforms, leading to his recall-election victory in 2012 — making him the only governor in the nation's history to survive such an effort.
"I got together in the capital with all the Republicans, those in office and the newly-elected," Walker said, referring to shortly after he first took office in 2011. "I said, 'It is put up or shut up.'
"I pointed out that Democrats had controlled everything and state voters had flipped it. If we just nibbled around the edges, the voters would have every right to throw us out.
"I said: 'We need to go big and bold. We need to show we are different than the party we replaced.' I don't think anybody would doubt that we went big and bold.
"The reason it sustained us during the attacks and protests because we knew it was because of my sons," Walker said, referring to his two now-adult sons, Matthew and Alex. "All the others of their generation. Sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters. We knew it was not acceptable to have a state that was better than the one we inherited.
"It was not just about taking on protests. We had to bring together Republicans in both houses. Sometimes, there are people who like the status quo, even in our own party. They don't want to change things.
"We had to make the case for why reform was necessary."
Walker said it was critical to grow the nation's economy "in cities and villages around the country," not in Washington.
He called for a "competitive" tax structure, one that would cut taxes on income, property and employers — and that would "broaden the base and have more people brought into the economy.
"When we not only grow the economy, but put people into better jobs and raise wages, we put ourselves in a position where we lower the deficit problem by raising the amount of revenue — not by higher rates but by spreading the volume," Walker said.
Reining in "out-of-control government regulations" and repealing Obamacare and putting in place an "all-of-the-above energy policy" that utilizes all of the nation's resources are some of the reform objectives Walker discussed.
"When I think about the president and people like Hillary Clinton, they seem to measure success in government by how many people who are on Medicaid and food stamps and unemployment," the governor said.
"We should measure success on the opposite: by people who are no longer dependent on the government. Freedom and prosperity do not come from the mighty hand of the government. It comes from allowing people to live their own lives and control her own destiny through the dignity that is born of work."
He said that Republican Party needed to be one that "stands up for anyone who wants to work hard and play by the rules — and we will be the ones to champion the American dream, which is not to be dependent on the government."
Walker blasted Obama's foreign policy with such nations as Syria and President Bashar Assad's use of chemical weapons, Yemen, as well as Iran and the Islamic State (ISIS).
"It is so frustrating to think that we have a president that a couple of years ago drew a line in the sand — and a lot of people crossed it," he said. "We have a president that called ISIS just a year ago the JV squad. But called Yemen a success story and Iran as someone that we can do business with."
Clinton, he said, gave "Russia a reset button."
Mideast leaders recently told Walker that their biggest concern was "the disengagement of America.
"There are allies in the Middle East who are worried about the fact that America is not there. They are worried about our presence in the world.
"We need a commander-in-chief who will, once and for all, identify that radical Islamic terrorism is a threat to us all," Walker said to applause from the crowd. "We need a leader in this country who will identify Israel as an ally and start acting like it again."
And, as for the Islamic State, Walker said: "We are not going to wait until they bring the fight to us. We are going to fight on their soil and not ours."
In his speech, Sununu, the New Hampshire GOP chairman, slammed the Obama White House as "the move your lips administration" — meaning that "the punch line comes … when his lips move."
"Our allies know it. Our enemies know it," he said.
"We have a president that has not the slightest idea of what has made this country exceptional for two-and-a-half centuries. We have a president who believes what he said when he told us all, 'You did not build that.'
"We have a president who was serious when he went out to foreign countries and apologized for the United States," Sununu continued. "A president who has no sense of his obligation as the leader of the greatest nation in the world.
"I worked for a president who, when he spoke, people listened. When he committed to something, he'd did it. It was fulfilled and accomplished.
"This president has undermined and destroyed that everywhere," he said. "There has to be a change."
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