Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker sought to portray himself not only as a fighter but a winner when he when he became the 15th Republican to enter the 2016 presidential race on Monday.
“My record shows that I know how to fight and win. Now more than ever, America needs a president who will fight and win,” Walker said at a rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin, to announce his White House bid.
Like he has done during his frequent visits to early voting states, Walker used his 2016 kickoff to highlight his battles with the labor unions in his state and his success winning three elections in four years.
“In the Republican field, there are some who are good fighters, but they haven’t won those battles,” Walker said in a video released leading up to the rally. “There are others who have won elections but haven’t consistently taken on the big fights. We showed you can do both.”
The Wisconsin Republican enters the race as a top-tier candidate in a crowded GOP field. His strategy is expected to be focused heavily on Iowa, where he will embark on a three-day Winnebago trip later this week.
During his rally, Walker highlighted his accomplishments in the Badger State, and pledged to shrink the federal government and give more power to the states. He touted a conservative record filled with lowering taxes, government reform, stricter voter identification laws and anti-abortion rights legislation.
“If our reforms can work in a blue state like Wisconsin, they can work anywhere in America,” he said.
He also used the rally to recount his upbringing flipping burgers at McDonald’s to pay for college, offering a contrast to rival Jeb Bush, who hails from one of the country’s most famous political dynasties.
“We didn't inherit fame and fortune from our family,” he said. “What we got was the belief that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can do and be anything.”
Walker has at times stumbled with his frontrunner status, with even some supporters worried about his foreign policy chops. He raised eyebrows earlier this year when he compared his battle with the unions to ISIS and has since spent recent months studying up on international affairs.
Walker, who spent a portion of his speech preaching American military strength, said the best commander in chief in his lifetime was also a governor -- Ronald Reagan.
“Under his leadership, we rebuilt our military, stood up for our friends, stood up to our enemies and - without apology - stood for American values: this led to one of the most peaceful times in modern American history,” he said.
Walker will spend the rest of the week traveling to early voting states before ending his first official campaign swing in Iowa, where aides say he will visit all of the state’s 99 counties before next year’s caucus.