Scott Walker becomes 15th Republican in White House race

Wisconsin governor pitches his conservative campaign on track record of ‘big, bold reforms’

Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker, pictured last January, who has joined a crowded field of Republican prospective candidates in the 2016 US presidential election. Photograph: Jim Young/Reuters

Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker, pictured last January, who has joined a crowded field of Republican prospective candidates in the 2016 US presidential election. Photograph: Jim Young/Reuters

 

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker has become the 15th major Republican to enter the race for the White House, formally announcing his long-anticipated candidacy.

The two-term governor is joining more than a dozen state governors in a crowded field of Republican prospective candidates in the 2016 presidential election.

“I’m in. I’m running for president because Americans deserve a leader who will fight and win for them,” he said on Twitter ahead of a campaign kick-off rally in Waukesha, a city in the Milwaukee suburbs.

Pitching himself as a Harley-driving, barbecue-loving Midwesterner and outsider to the Washington establishment, Mr Walker (47) is pushing his conservative credentials, small-town upbringing and appetite for tough fights. He is selling himself as the most authentic candidate in a packed Republican race to tackle economic and foreign policy challenges.

“America needs fresh, new leadership with big, bold ideas from outside of Washington to actually get things done,” he said in a 90-second video posted to mark the launch of his campaign.

He touted his three election victories in four years in a Democratic-leaning state, an electoral winning streak that has made him a favourite among Tea Party conservatives on the Republican right.

The union-battler and tax-cutter became the first governor to survive a recall election after his opponents collected enough signatures to hold another ballot in 2012 over his attempts to weaken trade union powers in Wisconsin to curb public spending. This sent his national profile and popularity among small-government Republicans soaring.

Power

“In Wisconsin we didn’t nibble around the edges. We enacted big bold reforms, took power out of the hands of the big government special interests and gave it to the hard-working taxpayers – and people’s lives are better because of it,” he said.

“We fought and won. In the Republican field, there are some who are good fighters, but they haven’t won those battles. And there are others who’ve won elections, but haven’t consistently taken on the big fights. We showed you can do both.”

Mr Walker has been riding high in opinion polls since he electrified the Republican field with a speech in Iowa in January. He is polling, on average, second behind former Florida governor Jeb Bush.

Equally conservative on social issues, Mr Walker called last month’s Supreme Court decision legalising same-sex marriage a “grave mistake.” His hero status on the right will guarantee that he will perform well in Iowa, the middle-of-America state that is the first to pick the party’s candidates in the presidential race early next year.

A career politician and college dropout, Walker, if elected, would be the first president since Harry Truman not to have a university degree.