Seeking to re-energize a campaign that's been sagging in national polls, GOP presidential candidate Scott Walker promised on Thursday "to take power out of the hands of the big government union bosses."
“On Day One, I'm going to stop the government from taking money, money out of the paychecks of federal employees for political union dues," Walker said in remarks at Eureka College, Ronald Reagan's alma mater, on Thursday. “ I don’t think any worker in this country should be required to put money into a political fund that doesn’t support candidates that they don’t support.”
Speaking with reverence for the former president, at the place where Reagan gave his first political speech, Walker tried to strike a tone of optimism and urgency. He said he wants his campaign to be one about solutions, promising to release a new “Day One” reform weekly.
“That’s why people are upset with Washington. That’s why I’m upset with Washington!,” Walker said pointing to his chest and elevating his tone, “They need to share our sense of urgency.”
Walker also recounted the fights he had with Democrats and labor unions in Washington, describing the fight over his collective bargaining bill, his recall election, and being targeted in his re-election campaign.
“They went after me with death threats and we didn’t back down.” Walker said with his wife in the audience. "They went after my family with threats, Tonnette and our children, but we didn’t back down!"
Kurtis Smyth, a Kewanee high school teacher, brought two of his students to watch the governor. "I haven’t heard Walker speak that much,” Curtis said. "This is the first time I see he was energetic and excited, looked like he was trying to revamp the campaign in some way.”
"Him laying out a reform each week, that sounds interesting— That’s something nobody else is doing right now and you just hear the frontrunner kind of talking,” Smyth added.
However, not everyone who watched Walker Thursday morning was welcoming. At the end of the speech, as the governor was walking down to shake hands with the audience, a man held up a sign reading “Wuck Falker.”
“I think it’s odd that someone who cuts so much from education comes to a school to talk” said Clair Cooley, a junior at Eureka college who says she counted Walker mentioning Reagan 21 times.
Leah Bohlman, a senior at the college, said she liked some of Walker’s ideas, but wouldn’t want them implemented across the county.
“The cause and effect of some of the stuff he’s done in Wisconsin, I feel like would not be good for the education system as a whole throughout the U.S,” Bohlman said.
After the speech, Walker walked down the the Reagan historical garden that features a bust of the the 40th president as well as a piece of the Berlin Wall.
There, he explained another warning shot he gave in his speech, challenging other candidates to lay out their plans to replace Obamacare.
“Talk’s cheap. Where’s your plan? Have the courage to tell people what your plan is,” Walker said during the speech.
Speaking to reporters after his remarks, Walker explained. “All the major candidates that are going to be on the podium next week at the debate," he said. "I’m the only one— of the major ones— who’s literally laid out a plan, and mine starts on Day One."