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Public Statements

Fox News "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace" - Transcript

Interview

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GOV. SCOTT WALKER, R-WIS.: Good to be back, Chris. Thanks for having me.

WALLACE: You said Friday that you're bewildered by the Romney campaign since he picked Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his running. You said that you expected Romney to start running a bolder, reform agenda campaign and so far he hasn't. Why not?

WALKER: Well, I think part of it is dealing with some of these tough issues on the side. I think if they get - continue to be more aggressive, just as they were days after Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan - what I loved about the pick of Paul Ryan wasn't just that he was from Wisconsin, or even about Paul Ryan himself, it was the fact that before that, we knew that Mitt Romney was qualified. I mean, his time in the private sector saving jobs, his time turning the Olympics around, his time as governor helping balance the budget without raising taxes in a way that helped create jobs. But when he picked Paul Ryan, what it said to us was he's not just qualified, he's got the courage and the passion to be an exceptional president. I want to see more of that on the campaign trail. I particularly want to see that in the debates. And I think that's what people are hungry for. They want that in states like Wisconsin and others across the country.

WALLACE: But Governor, it's been a long time. It's been over a month since he picked Paul Ryan. He had the Republican Convention, he had the week of the Democratic Convention, we've had a couple of weeks since then. Are they wasting Paul Ryan, and are they wasting the opportunity to present a reform agenda?

WALKER: Well, I think it's not just about Paul Ryan being on. I've talked to Paul a lot here. I was just in Florida the other day. I think he's doing an effective job out on the campaign trail. I'd just like to see more of the enthusiasm that I saw when the two of them were together early on. I think that's what Mitt Romney believes in. I think that's what will draw people to Mitt Romney not only in my state but in states across the country, particularly battleground states, and I think that's really what's at stake here. We talk a lot about this comment that was talked about this week. I think that takes away from the larger issue, which is pretty simple. This president and his allies largely define success, they measure success in government by how many people are dependent on the government, particularly on unemployment benefits. I think Mitt Romney, I and others, I think the majority of the people in this country, we define success in government as just the opposite, by how many people are not dependent on the government. Not because we've kicked them out into the streets, but rather because we've empowered small businesses and the private sector to create more jobs. That leads to greater prosperity and freedom for all of our people, and I think that's the focus we've got to have. The more we get off on these side issues, whether it's individual taxes or this video comment, that really distracts from the larger debate that is at stake here, one which we've seen the last four years had (ph) failed. I think we need to move towards one that will have a vision of us moving forward again.

WALLACE: Well, let's talk - you say it's a distraction, but it is big news, and we can't ignore it. The video that was released this week, because a lot of voters are receiving this information, in which Romney told big donors last night in Florida at a fund-raiser about the 47 percent he said -- actually 46 percent of Americans - who don't pay federal income taxes. Let's watch what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that a government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Governor, what do you think of that? Particularly Romney saying that 47 percent of Americans think of themselves as victims.

WALKER: Well, I don't know about the specifics of that or what he meant, but I can tell you in the larger context, most people I talk to, including people who are unemployed today here in the state of Wisconsin, don't want to be. They'd like to be able to go out and grab a job in the private sector. They'd like to be able to put food on the table and clothes on the backs of their kids and live a better life out there. The vast majority of people who are somewhat dependent, particularly when it comes to unemployment benefits, in this state and across the country, don't want to be. They want to live the American dream, and that's the contrast here. We've got a president who I think has largely taken an attack at the American dream, at the American spirit, at the American free enterprise system, and in President Romney we have someone who would embrace that and lift that up, so that all people could better themselves and improve their livelihood. And I think that is the message. That is the aspirational message that we need to hear. And certainly what drew people like me many, many years ago to someone like President Reagan, who shared the same beliefs and did so in a very optimistic way. I believe that's what Governor Mitt Romney believes in. I believe the more we get him out on the stump, particularly in states like Wisconsin, and hear that, the better off he's going to be in this election.

WALLACE: You know, Governor, that's a great statement, and if he'd said that, there wouldn't have been any problem. Of course, he didn't say that, and this is the last I'm going to ask you about it and move on, but you know, he seemed to write off. He didn't say, well, you know, these are people who are on hard times but they want to get our of hard times. He was basically saying, there are 47 percent, they're victims, they feel entitled, and they are never going to vote for me anyway, so I'm not going to worry about them. You know, he didn't say what you just said.

WALKER: Well, I think that's the (inaudible). We hear on the campaign trail, we hear the other side, in fact, you heard a little bit of that even from Mr. Gibbs earlier, this mind-set that somehow, even after four years, this president isn't responsible for this economy, the 43 months of unemployment above 8 percent, the 23 million of our fellow Americans who are looking for work today, that even in the foreign policy, even in the budget discussions, he said, well, that's not our fault, that's the Congress' fault. That's a failure to lead. We need Mitt Romney out there making the case about how his leadership is not only going to ultimately win this election, but more importantly, how his leadership is going to put many of the people today who are dependent on the government for unemployment back to work, not because of the government, because we've got government out of the way and put people to work in the private sector. That's the message I hope resonates at the first debate, and will continue between now and November 6th.

WALLACE: OK, so in the radio interview Friday, you said that you felt that too many people are restraining Romney from giving his vision. I guess the question becomes, let's say that you suddenly were appointed campaign chairman. What would you say to Romney? What does he need to do this week during the bus tour in Ohio? What does he need to do when he's face to face, man to man with Barack Obama at that first debate?

WALKER: I think he's got to get off the heels and got to get out and charge forward. I think Americans want a fighter. They want someone who's not going to fight over politics, but rather who shows that this guy, Mitt Romney, is going to fight for the American people when he gets into office. He's not going to be on his heels. He's going to move forward, and I think he's got a great plan. He just needs more of an opportunity to get beyond some of these sidebar issues, that I think are distracting from the incredibly positive plan he's got to help the middle class, to help the hard-working taxpayers of this country move forward. And I want to see more passion. Certainly in part, it is a referendum on this president. There is no doubt about it. But I think for most Americans, particularly in my state, where there's an awful lot of swing independent voters, they want to know more than what's wrong with this president. They want to know what's right, and what's going to move this country forward, and I think Mitt Romney has got that plan. I want to see fire in the belly. I want to see him move forward.

I've seen it when he's been in Wisconsin. I saw it in Janesville, I saw it in Waukesha, I've seen it elsewhere. I want to see him lit up and ready to go, because that's the Mitt Romney I know, and I want to see most Americans see that. And if he does, I think he'll win this election.

WALLACE: Well, let's talk about Wisconsin, which has not gone Republican since Ronald Reagan in 1984. But Mr. Obama was campaigning in Milwaukee yesterday for the first time since February. Having said that, the RealClearPolitics average of recent polls shows Obama with a 7-point lead now in your state, and one poll shows that the president now leads Romney on who's better at handling the economy. Question, Governor, is Wisconsin really in play this year?

WALKER: I really think it is. I mean, in my recall election, we won in June by more votes than were cast two years ago, by a larger percentage than two years ago, and many of the polls show that it would be tight. In fact, some of the exit polls that night showed it was a split decision, right down the middle. I ended up winning by a larger margin than I had two years prior, so I think there's a lot of things moving here. Certainly there's a very clear political division that had been for years between Republican and Democrats. In 2000 and 2004, we were the closest blue state in America. Only a couple of thousand votes out of 2.5 million made the difference.

I think, though, the fact the president was here yesterday, Mitt Romney's son was here yesterday, Mitt Romney's wife Ann was here a couple of days ago. Both Joe Biden and Paul Ryan were here last week. I think you're going to see plenty more attention to Wisconsin, as well as Iowa and other Midwestern states between now and the election. I do think it is competitive, but again, I have said all along to Mitt Romney, if he wants to win Wisconsin, he's got to show people that the R next to his name doesn't just stand for Republican, it stands for reformer, and that leads to greater recovery. If he shows that in Wisconsin, those swing voters are going to swing his way, and he can win the election.

WALLACE: Let's talk about your issue, your big reform issue. You made national news over the last two years with your law that you pushed very hard and over great opposition, effectively ending collective bargaining for most public workers. Now, nine days ago, and it didn't get a lot of attention, but a Wisconsin county judge overturned part of that law as unconstitutional, when it comes to school, workers, and local government workers. How big a setback is that for you, Governor?

WALKER: Well, it is a problem in the short term just because a lot of our local governments have already set their tax levies and areas (ph) of their budgets in place. It's a real concern in the short term. In fact, Moody's, one of the national bond rating agencies, even put out notice of a negative outlook for local government's bond ratings because of that decision. Now, last year, we had another activist liberal judge from Dane County, the capital base of the state, make a decision that ultimately was overturned. The law was upheld by the state supreme court. I am confident that that will happen again. But in the short term, it is a problem. In our state, we've had legal action, we've had an election, a recall election, the first in the country, where a governor was elected, in this case by a larger margin than before.

I think for most of us in Wisconsin, we've moved on over the last several months. We're ready to move forward, and it's good, because the reforms have saved money. More than $1 billion worth of savings, property taxes went down for the first time in 12 years on a median value home. A major budget deficit turned into a surplus. We're heading down the right track and we're moving the state forward, and this is just a temporary setback until the upper court upholds that.

WALLACE: Governor, we have less than a minute left. I want to ask you about another labor issue. As you know, I'm sure, they just ended a messy and angry school strike in Chicago. First of all, how did you think that Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago, handle it? And secondly, are you beginning to see a split even between Democratic office holders and public employee unions?

WALKER: Well, I really do. And I mentioned this even before this strike that in places like Chicago, where Rahm Emanuel, or even some of the other states, you look at Massachusetts, New York, others out there, when you're the chief executive, be it a mayor or governor, the buck stops with you.

You've ultimately got to make decisions that make things work. And in this case, what we did with our reforms, much like they tried to do in Chicago, wasn't just about taxpayer savings, it was about making the government work. And that's effecting what we have in place.

Think about it, Mayor Rahm Emanuel was just talking about -- in particular about having accountability and having measures in which you can hold people accountable and hire and fire based on merit.

That's what we did in Wisconsin. And when you do that. When you pay based on performance, you can put the best and the brightest in your classrooms, and you can keep them there.

It's good for the taxpayers. It's good for the students. It's good for great teachers.

WALLACE: Governor, going to have to leave it there. Governor Walker, thank you so much for talking with us today. And we'll be watching what happens in Wisconsin, sir.

WALKER: Thank you, Chris.

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