Gov. Scott Walker delivers an address at a fundraising event
for the Iowa GOP on Thursday, May 23, 2013 at the Sheraton
Hotel in West Des Moines, Iowa.
WEST DES MOINES,
Iowa — Scott Walker tried to introduce himself to Iowa
Republicans Thursday as so many would-be presidential candidates
often do — one of their own.
After all, the
Wisconsin governor weighing a 2016 bid for president spent seven
years as a young child living in Plainfield, a tiny town in
northeast Iowa Walker referred to a half-dozen times during a 40
minute speech at a Republican fundraiser.
More broadly, the
rising GOP figure prescribed what he characterized as a Midwestern
approach to politics and the way for Republicans, back-to-back
White House losers, to win again.
encourage us all to be more optimistic, more relevant and more
courageous," Walker told 600 GOP activists in a suburban Des
Moines hotel ballroom. "I think when we do, we win in Iowa,
we win in Wisconsin, and all across this great country, and we
transform this place we live in."
governor, who has won party acclaim for taking on unions and
overcame a contentious recall election, has been raising his
national profile with speeches to national Republican audiences in
recent months and headlined fundraisers in New York and
Connecticut this week.
Walker was making
his first visit Thursday to the state that has traditionally held
the first presidential caucuses. He was the keynote speaker at the
Polk County Republican Party's annual spring fundraising dinner
and also met privately with leaders at a separate fundraiser
before the banquet.
applauded when he noted during the speech how he won a larger
victory in defeating Democratic Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee
during the recall vote last year than he did in his 2010 election.
They cheered again when he described the budget surplus Wisconsin
has today, compared with the $3.6 billion deficit in place when he
Walker is a great example of a courageous governor who made the
tough decisions and has the state going in the right
direction," said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican who
attended the event.
including some who traveled from Milwaukee, said earlier Thursday
that Walker had overpromised the number of jobs he would bring in.
Wisconsin's unemployment has dropped during his time in office,
albeit less dramatically than in other Midwestern states such as
Michigan and Ohio.
returning in his remarks to his time in Iowa, as a boy, and the
son of a Baptist minister. Walker moved to southern Wisconsin when
he was 10.
He ticked through
the name of a former teacher, a neighbor and the state
legislator-turned congressman, "a farmer down the way from us
named Chuck Grassley." Grassley is now Iowa's senior U.S.
senator, serving his sixth term.
Should he decide
to run for president, Walker's Iowa ties and evangelical
upbringing could serve him well in Iowa's Republican caucuses,
where Christian conservatives make up an influential bloc.
touch social issues. Instead, he urged the party to reach out to
voting blocs Republicans have struggled to win, such as Latinos.
Walker trumpeted his success winning Hispanic-leaning precincts
when he was Milwaukee County executive before being elected
"We've got a
message of opportunity and optimism. We've got to be willing to go
to places that Republicans typically don't go," he said.
It's a style that
works for Connie Schmett, a Des Moines-area Republican who
contributed money to Walker's recall campaign and attended the
your brother, your neighbor," she said. "I've seen a lot
of these guys. And he just seems like a good guy."