OTR Interviews

Gov. Scott Walker: 'It's one thing to fight, it's another to win'

Wisconsin governor on getting past gridlock in Washington, taking the fight to ISIS, standing with Netanyahu, the debate over his lack of college degree, his perceived slap at potential 2016 rival Jeb Bush, his upcoming keynote address at CPAC and more

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 24, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Sounds like Governor/potential 2016 candidate, Scott Walker, is getting ready to speak at CPAC this week. His experience at CPAC comes as Governor Walker fends off criticism of his recent comments about President Obama and some of the 2016 forerunners --frontrunners.

And joining us from Madison, Wisconsin, Governor Walker. Nice to see you, sir.

SCOTT WALKER, GOVERNOR OF WISCONSIN: Greta, good to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, we have a lot of problems with non- bipartisanship here in this town. Everybody seems to be fighting all the time. The present course the democratic got the republican house, republican senate. You are a little bit lucky, you have a democratic assembly and democratic senate. But tell me, how does someone govern with a party opponent in the house and senate?

WALKER: Well, I think you have to lead. I think you look across the country, governors are doing it one state after another. They are leading. It's one thing to fight but it's another thing to win. What we have done in Wisconsin is fight and win, for the hard working taxpayers. We have done that by putting the power back in their hand. That's part of the reason we had the fight with the big union bosses, the union bosses four years ago. If you show in the end that you are fighting for the hard working taxpayers and winning, they are going to stand with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you mentioned the fight with some of the labor people they have. There's a dispute right now, today in Wisconsin. There is a senate hearing about whether or not Wisconsin become a right-to- work state or not. Even the NFL is hitting you over the head with this because the NFL players union I should say. What's your -- what's going to happen there?

WALKER: Well, Greta, you were here firsthand for years ago. You saw what happened in this state. A lot of people claim the world was going to come to an end. We effectively did freedom to work for all public employees. More than 300,000 state and local employees four years ago. People claimed public education was going to fall apart instead by getting rid of seniority and tenure. We empowered school districts to put the best and brightest in classrooms by hiring based on merit and paying based performance. Today our schools are better. Our graduation rates are up. Our third grade reading scores are up. Our ACT scores are second best in the country here Wisconsin.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, there's a stir this week with a question was asked of you, whether or not President Obama is a Christian or not. And you have called it a gotcha question. Is there any time when the question like that is appropriate to ask of a candidate?

WALKER: Well, people can ask questions all the time. My reaction and part of the reason why we created our americanrevival.com was to get out the point that people care about, they care about grow, they care about reform, they care about safety. They want to know, what is a perspective candidate likely to do when it comes to making sure everyone can live their piece in the American dream. What are they going to do to transfer power away from Washington to the hardworking taxpayers and what are they going to do to make people safe from radical Islamic terrorist around the world. Those are the things people care about. And I think the reaction I had to some of those so-called gotcha questions was, these other things aren't people - things that people care about. I was - you appreciate this Greta, I was in Green Bay, Wisconsin this afternoon. I was at two of the leading job creators talking about career opportunities for people with disabilities and somebody in the press at the end asked me a question about this very subject and I said, I challenge you to go out with me and walk down the streets here in Green Bay, Wisconsin and ask people, 100 people on the street what do they really care about, and I'm certain that not a one of them would talk about the issues we heard about in Washington from the media. They care about the things that we're talking about in our American revival.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, well, you took a little slap at Governor Jeb Bush this week. Let me just play your statement for you, sir.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: Unlike some out there I didn't inherit fame or fortune from my family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, That was a little bit of slap at Governor Bush. He went on to talk about you inheriting good values from your parents and I assume that Governor Bush did as well from President and Mrs. Bush, but, you know, is it a little bit early to take a slap at an opponent?

WALKER: Well, I'm not. I mean, from my stand point, people have heard me talk about my narrative for years long before there was even a thought of potentially running for office at this level. I have talked about the fact that unlike others out there I'm not talking about candidate, just people in general inherited fame or inherited fortune. What I got from my parents and grandparents was the belief that if you work hard and play by the rules you can do it be anything you want. Now there's plenty of people regardless of economic background that got that regardless of their political heritage that got that, that discussion was all about my narrative not about anybody else's.

VAN SUSTEREN: So, that wasn't a slap at Governor Bush?

WALKER: No. I have talked about that for years. I pointed out that my dad was a small town minister. My mom was a part-time secretary. Her parents, my grandparents grew up on a farm where they didn't have indoor plumbing until my mother went to high school. My grandfather, my dad's side was a machinist at Barbara Coleman in Rockford, Illinois for most of his life. I had to flip hamburgers to pay for college and started out my first job washing dishes at the countryside restaurant. My point was, what I inherited wasn't about wealth, wasn't about fortune or it wasn't about fame. It was ultimately about this belief that if you worked hard and played by the rules you could do or be anything you want. Sadly in America today I think there's, because of what we see coming out of Washington, there is too many of our fellow Americans who believed that dream is somehow out of reach. Part of the reason why I'm even interested in exploring the possibility of running for President, because I think they need a fighter. They need someone who is going to fight and win for them. The hard working taxpayers and the people who desperately want to live their piece of the American dream not through more government but getting the government out of way particularly in Washington.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me asked you, you mentioned college. You have taken some heat because you didn't finish college. I, for one, don't think college measures intelligence or ability to work or hard working or whatever. But, as I said, I don't use a college degree to measure anything except someone's ability to go to college. Oftentimes the financial but I'm curious, is that a fair question to be asked of you? Should you get hammered about that?

WALKER: I think it's a fair question. But I think anybody who is hiring someone in their 40s and 50s for a job would probably look at the performance the last few years in previous jobs. And that's what I asked people to do here.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, this week you are going to be back in Washington CPAC. In fact, you are going to be a guest on Sean Hannity on Thursday at CPAC. What's the sort of bullet point message you are going to give at CPAC?

WALKER: Well, I think it's simple. Plus what I said a moment ago, people in America want a fresh new face, they want big bold ideas from outside of Washington. They want someone who has got a proven track record. A lot of people can talk about fighting for taxpayers, for the hard working taxpayers in this country, I don't think there are far fewer of us who can actually say we fought and won for the hard working taxpayers. We are going to lay out not just that narrative but I think that lay out what that means in terms of fighting for more growth by getting government out of the way. By fighting for removing power from Washington from the big government special interest and putting it firmly in the hands of the taxpayers. I think increasingly in this country we need to talk about what safety means and standing with our true allies like Israel not walking out on them. Certainly being there when Prime Minister Netanyahu at the congress. I think it's important to make that case that we stand with our allies and we are going to stand up against radical Islamic terrorists to make sure we take the fight to them and not wait until they take the fight to us.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, as a tip I don't think you necessarily need but just a warning when you come back here, it's just as cold here as it is there. So, bring your coat, it's freezing.

WALKER: Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, thank you.

WALKER: Nothing like Wisconsin though. Thank you, Greta, go Packers.

VAN SUSTEREN: Nothing, no, no, at least though it's not humid, it's colder. It gets to your bones here worse. Anyway Governor, thank you.

WALKER: It is a damp cold. You are right about that. I much like a brisker cold like we have in Wisconsin.

VAN SUSTEREN: I do too. Anyway, thank you, Governor.