OTR Interviews

Wis. Gov. Walker on the prospect of a recall election: Bring it on

Wis. Gov. Scott Walker defends his agenda as he prepares for recall election


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," January 17, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


CROWD: This is what Democracy looks like!


GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, it's not over. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker fights for his political life. Tonight 1.5 tons of paper petitions calling for his ouster were delivered to the state elections board in Madison. The groups trying to boot Governor Walker from office say they have twice the signatures needed for a recall election. It would be the first recall election of a governor in Wisconsin history and would be the only third time in U.S. history.

Governor Walker, a Republican, was thrust into the national storm when he took on state unions. So can he survive a recall vote? Governor Scott Walker joins us. Good evening, sir.

WIS. GOV. SCOTT WALKER: Greta, good to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I guess it's not such a rude awakening. You saw this one coming. It wasn't just this afternoon when the petitions were delivered.

WALKER: No. I said months ago that I thought this effort led by the operatives and the state Democrat Party and also really funded ultimately by the national big government unions were going to be pushing for this long ago. We said from early on we thought with the activists, they would get enough signatures.

But in the end we earned the trust of the majority of citizens in our state back in the fall of 2010. I believe we kept our promises and did what we said we were going to do. We reformed our government, balanced our budget, did it without raising taxes. And I think we're going to earn the trust again of the majority of people come 2012.

VAN SUSTEREN: I guess the Democrats or those who want you out of office, they got more numbers than they needed. They got about the same number of people signing petition, assuming they are good signatures, as voted you into office. I suppose that was another shot across the bow?

WALKER: But it's one of those -- if you look at the numbers they got about as many as Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee who lost the last election did. But more importantly those same groups fought me in the fall of 2010. The national liberal activists groups and the big government unions from Washington, they have been fighting our reforms all along.

In the end what this for them is all about is the money. They want to force public employees, public servants in our state to sign up for unions because they want their hands in the money. They would sell them out for just about anything else.

We instead balanced our budget without raising taxes. And I think in the end I think it will be a real choice. Do we go back to the days of billion-dollar budget deficits, record job loss, and double-digit tax increases, or do we move our state forward. And I think a majority of the people in Wisconsin still want us to move forward.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is the state unemployment number in Wisconsin compared to the national level?

WALKER: It's 7.3 percent. It was 7.6 percent the same time a year ago, obviously well lower than the national level.

And another interesting comparison -- the proponents of this recall advocate the same policies we had in the past when we lost 150,000 jobs before I took office. It's the same polls we see on display right now in Illinois and they have a 10 percent unemployment rate.

So I think there is a stark contrast when voters look at the choice and realize it's not just up or down on these reforms. It's about a better choice than places like Illinois have made in the past year. I think they will ultimately stand with us and ask us to continue to lead this great state.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's sort of interesting. Wisconsin is always interesting politics, and I have a particular fondness for watching Wisconsin politics, but this really is a divided ideology. As I understand it there is outside influence on both sides of the aisle on this, both Republicans and Democrats and sympathizers to both from across the nation are pouring money and enthusiasm into this and will set a stage for something bigger. Am I wrong?

WALKER: I think no doubt about it. It affects the 2012 election, but more importantly the dynamics for the future. If we take on state house by state house and Congress, we have to make sure our kids don't inherit the problems we have in the first place, whether in Wisconsin or the nation. We have to have leaders that by more about the next generation that the election. That's really what this is about. We chose to think about our kids and grandkids, not just our political futures, and I hope enough people will say hang tough you are doing the right thing.

VAN SUSTEREN: In the "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" tonight I read this will cost taxpayers about $9 million in the state, which is sort of interesting, although I suppose there are jobs created with that as well. And this likely will occur this summer, and you will likely have some opposition, right? Any within your own party?

WALKER: No, not at all. I think there's almost unanimous support amongst or party and I think amongst discerning Democrats that don't want to see $9 million spent or endless campaigns. But that's what we have thanks to the big money coming in from Washington from the public employee unions. We will be able to fight that. ScottWalker.org, hopefully people will join us in that cause.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, thank you. Always nice to see you, sir.

WALKER: Good to see you too.