This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 19, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: First, Wisconsin's governor, Scott Walker, joins us. Good evening, sir.
WIS. GOV. SCOTT WALKER: Good to be with you.
VAN SUSTEREN: It's nice to be...
WALKER: Thanks for coming to Wisconsin. We appreciate it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Love being here. You know that. All right, your recall, how's it going?
WALKER: It's going well. I mean, the more we get the message out, the more we get the truth out, the more we compare ourselves to Illinois and they see the failed policies down there don't work, the better off we are. But we've got a long ways to go.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, so far, you don't have any opponents, official opponents. Why?
WALKER: The recall -- the certification will happen by the end of the month. Once they do, people will be able to take out signatures. At least two or three candidates have already said they're in. There's probably maybe one or two more. And it'll be interesting to see.
VAN SUSTEREN: Who is considered the most serious candidate among most people? Is it Kathleen Falk out of Dane County?
WALKER: Kathleen Falk, the former Dane County executive, by far has the support of the big government unions out there fully behind her. Mayor Tom Barrett, who ran against me a couple years ago, won in 2010, Mayor of Milwaukee -- he's a credible candidate, as well. And I think the two of them will be fighting it out in the primary, if the mayor gets in.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, I described this as a fierce -- I mean, this is the -- what is it, the third time there's been a recall in history, I guess, for governor.
WALKER: In the nation.
VAN SUSTEREN: In the nation. All right, so it's a big deal, besides the fact that it's a big deal to you, obviously, and of the state of Wisconsin. Why has it gotten so fierce here?
WALKER: Well, I think what we saw last year about this time was when money and bodies came in from out of the state, certainly a lot of passion here. And you know this. This state has had big debates about political issues for years, if not decades.
But when the money came in from out of state, when the people were bused in and flown in from out of state, when you saw the big government union bosses pushing things -- and you continue to see that. They're the ones that drove the money being spent last year -- $44 million was spent on the senate recall elections to take out six Republican senators last year.
Someone said it's as much as $70 million to $80 million that'll be spent against me, and a good chunk of that's going to come from out-of- state big government unions.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have any regret how you handled the collective bargaining issue?
WALKER: Oh, I look back on it, think I would have spent more time, if I could do it over again, kind of laying the groundwork, making the case.
I mean, a good example -- I think if people last year in February, before we introduced our reforms, knew that the vast majority of school districts in our state literally paid tens of millions of dollars more than they needed to in the past because the old collective bargaining system forced them to buy their health insurance from just one company that just happened to be affiliated with the teachers union, they'd demand change.
Well, we created that change. Now we have to tell that story, along with others, after the fact. But I think when people see the facts, they see the results, they may not have liked every bit of the process, but it's a lot better than what other states, including states like Illinois.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, give me the state of the -- the state of the state. How're you doing? What's your unemployment level?
WALKER: It's 6.9, the lowest it's been since 2008. We had 15,700 new jobs in January.
VAN SUSTEREN: But you had people leave the workforce, too, in this state.
WALKER: We have, although, again, you compare us to the national average, we're doing much better. Compare us to Illinois, which raised taxes, laid off thousands of employees, shut down facilities, cut Medicaid, and they have an unemployment rate that's about 10 percent.
So really, if people want to know what would you get out of a recall if it's successful, I say just look to the south in Springfield because those are the same policies that failed in the past in Wisconsin, they'd fail again here.
VAN SUSTEREN: Some people think this recall election is hijacked on the national level, meaning that there's going to be coming -- money coming in from the unions for whoever your opponent is, and that for you, there'll be money -- and of course, they always hold up the Koch brothers as the ones that, you know, that they say are funding you.
Is that a fair description of this, that this has been hijacked to some degree by the -- on the national level?
WALKER: Well, you look at the way that it started. I mean, the out- of-state money even before there was a recall campaign clearly came from the big government unions, the special interests from Washington.
You're going to see the vast majority of money coming in, I believe, from out of the state in the end. And yes, there are people helping all across the country. But our last report showed that more than 76 percent of our contributions came from people who gave us $50 or less.
I mean, people going to Scottwalker.org, telling us they want us to help things out and those $10, $15, $20 contributions really make a difference. The national unions, for them, this is all about the money. It's not just about the budget or collective bargaining.
We gave nearly -- well, we gave every public employee in this state the freedom to choose whether or not they want to be in a union or not, and I think that's really why this is a Waterloo for them.
They're going to invest everything possible to try and take me out to send a message not only to other Republican governors but I think to a number of discerning Democrat governors and mayors who look at this and say, You know what? Maybe we can rein in our cost here and be able to balance our budget in a way that's responsible if we do some of the same things that they've done in Wisconsin.
VAN SUSTEREN: It's so interesting, though, how, I mean, it's gotten so divided in the state. And I realize it has a long and sort of tortured political history in the state, but that you -- I mean, you are the villain to the unions. You are the absolute villain. And I mean, even during the time -- obviously the coverage of the collective bargaining, if -- you know, when I would interview you, it didn't matter what I asked you...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... I would get the nastiest e-mails. Now I was the villain with you. Of if I -- if I interviewed someone on the union side, the Republicans were saying I was a villain, too.
WALKER: Well, again, I think what you saw was about a week after this started, when those 14 senators left the state, that opened the window for people to be brought in from other states. They came from Illinois. They came from Nevada. They came from New Jersey and Washington, D.C., and New York.
When that started to happen, when you see the buses of people come in, the charter planes coming in -- and the money they spent. I mean, they dumped $4 million to $5 million even before any campaigns last year, attacking me and attacking the process.