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Feb 11 / Elizabeth DiNovella

Walker’s Pitch at CPAC

“Some other states used budget gimmicks and tricks to balance their budget. We didn’t have to do that,” said Governor Scott Walker. “Instead we put in place long-term structural reforms that not only helped us balance our state budget, but our local governments, for years to come. As I like to say around the capitol, we thought more about the next generation than about the next election.”

Governor Scott Walker made these remarks during a speech last night at the Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC. Walker was the keynote speaker of the annual Reagan Banquet.

It’s safe to assume that most people at the banquet didn’t read about the $143 million dollar shortfall in the budget, or about the Walker administration using mortgage settlement money to plug gaps in state spending.

Walker was playing to a national audience and not to Wisconsinites. And it’s worthwhile to see how the governor frames Wisconsin’s tumultuous year.

“Collective bargaining is not a right. Collective bargaining in the public sector is an expensive entitlement,” he said. This line got the biggest applause of the night.

Walker said his administration is pro-worker and pro-taxpayer. “What we did once and for all was say the taxpayers should have something to say in this debate, not just a handful of big government union bosses,” he said, referring to Act 10. “We put the power back in the hands of the people.”

Why is Walker being recalled? This is what he had to say:

“Simply put, it’s about the money. The other thing I did that has the big government union bosses upset is something that is fundamentally pro-worker, something that is essentially about freedom. I gave the nearly 300,000 public servants in my state, the good, decent men and women who work in our state and local governments, the right to choose. I said to every one of our public employees, you no longer have to be forced to be in a public employee union. You get to choose whether or not you are going to be in that union. That is a true free choice act.”

Walker used the speech as a fundraising opportunity. And this does not include any donors he met with while he was here in Washington, DC. Did Walker meet with Foster Friess, who gave Walker $250,000 for the recall? Friess is here at the CPAC conference and introduced Rick Santorum, another candidate he lavishly supports.

“To win I’m going to need your help, plain and simple,” Walker said. “I used to be apologetic about asking for help, but I realize it’s not about me. It’s not about my bank account. It’s not about running for some other office. This is fundamentally about freedom and where we go not only as a state in Wisconsin but where we go as America.”

He asked people to donate to his efforts to fight the recall. “In the last report we’ve filed, not long ago, 76 percent of our contributions came from people who gave us $50 or less,” Walker said. “Out of those thousands and thousands of donors, 76 percent gave $50 or less. Now, we’ll take more. But along the way what I think it shows is a true grassroots movement.” Walker did not mention that most of his recent donations—61 percent–came from out of state

Walker decried the “big government union bosses” and said that unions bussed people in from out of state. And then Walker asked for help for his ground game.

“The only way we can counter that is with good old-fashioned grassroots. We need bodies in our state and across the country to come in and say we can match that. We can volunteer to step up, hand out flyer, make phone calls. We can do those things. For all of you who are interested in that, I’m asking you to join our cause at scottwalker.org.”

Walker portrayed himself as a bold and courageous leader. He said he is an optimist and that he believes he will prevail. The governor got a standing ovation after his talk.

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