Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s address to GOP donors Saturday at the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting in Las Vegas sounded an awful lot like a stump speech.
The Republican, a potential 2016 presidential contender, hit on some of the right’s favorite issues – states’ rights, lower taxes, and a stronger military – while slamming Democrats over federal programs that he said encourage dependency on the government.
President Obama’s administration “measures success by how many people are dependent on the government. That’s waving the white flag, isn’t it?” Walker said. “We measure success on just the opposite, by how many people are no longer dependent on the government.”
“That’s not just a Republican or conservative ideal, that’s an American ideal,” Walker added.
Walker also weighed in on foreign policy, arguing that the U.S. needs to strengthen its military in order to better defend its interests and to be a “good ally” to Israel.
“I’m not eager to see or send our men and women to battle,” Walker said. “I think it’s also important that if we’re gonna have a deterrence, we have to have something to back it up.”
The issue of America’s “strength” was a focus of Walker’s speech. He noted his concern about the country’s standing in the world under the current administration, citing the president’s responses to crises in Syria, Iran and Ukraine.
“If people around the world, not just our allies, but our adversaries – if they don’t believe we’re strong, they’ll take action,” Walker said.
Shifting to domestic policy, Walker said models of American strength can be seen at the state level. Walker then highlighted his history of cutting taxes in Wisconsin.
Other potential 2016 Republican contenders were set to address the meeting, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. But there was, according to reporters in attendance, one notable absence in the crowd during Walker’s speech: the weekend’s unofficial host, GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, who is on the board of the Republican Jewish Coaltiion and whose casino is hosting the festivities.
Adelson poured nearly $100 million into 2012 election, and he will undoubtedly be eyeing the 2016 hopefuls this weekend. He may already be focused on one candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who reportedly dined with Adelson on Thursday at a private event.
Walker painted a picture of himself as a regular guy, telling stories about shopping for sale items at Kohl’s. During a Q&A following his remarks, the governor even hinted at how he’d spin Republican messages into a winning campaign.
“This president is a master at telling people he’s giving them more,” Walker said. “We can’t be the party of less. We have to be the party of more, but not more government, but more freedom, more opportunity.”