Walker makes it official: ‘I’m in’

One day after he signed the $72.7 billion state budget, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker finally made it official, announcing that he is running for president.

On his campaign website, Walker posted a video that announced his candidacy and set the tone for how he will try to separate himself from a crowded GOP field.

“America needs new, fresh leadership with big, bold ideas, from outside of Washington, (that can) actually get things done,” Walker said in the video. “In Wisconsin, we didn’t nibble around the edges. We enacted big, bold reforms and took power out of the hands of the big government special interests and gave it to the hardworking taxpayers, whose lives are better because of it.”

In making his case for the Republican nomination, Walker is trying to establish himself as the best choice for conservatives by touting his record as governor, including: the Act 10 legislation that reduced collective bargaining rights for public employees in Wisconsin, and his approval of tax cuts, spending cuts, regulatory and lawsuit “reform,” pro-life legislation, gun rights legislation and photo ID requirements.

Critics of Walker will no doubt seize on some of those same issues. Democrats were quick to offer criticism of Walker’s entry into the presidential race.

“Scott Walker has indicated that he intends to bring his Wisconsin brand of politics to Washington, but the reality is that he’s already brought the worst of Washington to Wisconsin,” said DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. “To promote adherence to his rigid partisan views and to please the special interests that have backed his campaigns, Walker has (pitted) the people of Wisconsin against each other in contentious ideological fights. He’s gutted education, refused investments in infrastructure and health care, and shuttered women’s health clinics, while pushing tax policies that have overwhelmingly benefitted the wealthiest few.”

In his pitch to Republican voters, Walker will also rely on his political record of being elected twice as governor and surviving a recall election challenge in a “blue state.”

“In the Republican field (for president) there are some who are good fighters, but they haven’t won (bold policy) battles,” Walker said. “There are others who have won elections, but haven’t consistently taken on the big fights. We showed you can do both.”

But, Walker’s jobs record will also be scrutinized. When he first ran for governor, he pledged to enact policies that would help the private sector create 250,000 jobs in the state during his first term. Despite his pro-business policies, the state only added about 129,000 jobs during his first term as governor. Wisconsin ranked 35th overall in the nation in private-sector job creation during his first term. In addition, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the state economic development and job creation entity created under Walker, has been the subject of reports of mismanagement.

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