Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is in Washington, D.C. for the weekend, a place he says he’d prefer not to be.
“As much as I love coming here, I love going home even more,” Walker said Friday afternoon to a room full mostly of journalists at the conservative American Action Forum's speaker series.
His attack on Washington and the region’s “68 square miles surrounded by reality” provides some insight into how Walker will run should, or when, he launches a presidential campaign – as an outsider.
But should Walker launch a presidential campaign, Washington is exactly the place he will raise millions of dollars to try to move to.
While he’s here, he’s doing very “Washington” things. He is attending the exclusive annual Alfalfa Club dinner Saturday night and he’ll hold meetings, including one with wealthy Republican donor Fred Malek who hosted Walker’s speech Friday. He addressed the press, and to round out the ultimate D.C. experience, he’ll appear on a Sunday political talk show.
Meanwhile, back home in Wisconsin, the governor who just won reelection has opened up a tinderbox with his new budget proposal that includes a $300 million cut of the state’s university system.
He didn’t address his controversial proposal Friday but did talk about his successful and highly fraught battle to limit the bargaining power of public sector unions as a way to close the state’s budget deficit. That move led to a recall election in 2012, which he won.
“We won elections, but more importantly we won on the policies,” Walker said.
Like any potential candidate not named Clinton or Bush, Walker said people outside of Washington are “craving for something new, something fresh, something dynamic,” which is a slight against potential challengers who come from a long lineage of presidential politics.
Walker also touched on a theme brought up by other Republicans, including Sen. Rand Paul and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, about the difficultly poor people have escaping poverty, saying the “odds are stacked against them.”
Walker blamed the federal government for keeping people poor because “power is taken away from them.”
He repeatedly spoke about government benefits for the poor, promoting his policy that requires benefit recipients to be involved in job training programs, and he said he is pushing for drug testing in exchange for government assistance.
Walker recently set up a 527 organization in preparation for a presidential run.