Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker – who emerged recently as the potential GOP presidential candidate du jour following a standout appearance in the early voting state of Iowa – took his message to the nation’s capital on Friday, insisting Americans have a “craving for something new, something fresh and something dynamic.”
The Republican made no mention of twice-failed presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s decision to not run again for the nation’s highest office – news that broke just an hour before Walker’s speech at the American Action Forum in Washington.
Romney, during his remarks to supporters, said he believes it’s time for the “next generation of Republican leaders, one who may not be as well-known as I am today, one who has not yet taken their message across the country, one who is just getting started, may well emerge as being better able to defeat the Democratic nominee.” He added, “in fact, I expect and hope that to be the case.”
Could that be Walker? The governor has certainly tried to pitch himself that way. Hours after his speech in DC, he tweeted, “Had a great conversation w/ @MittRomney. He’s a good man. Thanked him for his interest in opening the door for fresh leadership in America.” And during his speech, Walker echoed remarks he made in Iowa calling for “big, bold ideas” and urged for transferring power from the federal government to state and local governments. Walker criticized Washington’s “top down, government-knows-best” approach “that hasn’t worked in the past, and I don’t think it will work in the future.”
Walker also took aim at President Obama, arguing the president is preoccupied with growing the economy in Washington but not the rest of the country.
“There’s a disconnect between those who want to grow government in Washington and the rest of us who want to grow the economy out with real people in cities and towns and villages all across this great country,” he said.
Walker, 47, inched closer to a potential 2016 run on Tuesday, announcing that he is setting up a committee called “Our American Revival” to help him fundraise should he decide to jump into the race.
The decision came just days after Walker emerged a breakout star in the Hawkeye State at Rep. Steve King’s “Freedom Summit,” which was attended by several other potential 2016 Republican hopefuls, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, and former Govs. Rick Perry of Texas and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas. Walker delivered his remarks promoting his ability to “go big and go bold.”
“Maybe that’s why I won the race for governor three times in the last four years. Three times, mind you, in a state that hasn’t gone Republican for president since I was in high school more than 30 years ago,” he said. Walker added, “If you’re not afraid to go big and go bold, you can actually get results. You can applaud for that. And if you get the job done, the voters will actually stand up with you.”
Despite his high-profile battles with unions in 2011 and 2012, Walker doesn’t have the same national name recognition as a Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, or Marco Rubio. That doesn’t mean he can’t win – but it does suggest he faces more of an uphill battle. Walker recently won re-election following a hard-fought race against Democrat Mary Burke, has grappled with an inquiry into his administration regarding alleged illegal fundraising and has faced criticism over his attempt to roll back union rights, surviving a recall election in 2012.