Read Scott Walker’s Advice on How Republicans Should Handle Protests

10 minute read

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker advised Republicans in Congress to disregard protests and focus on their agenda.

In a speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, the Republican Governor compared protests of the Trump Administration and congressional town halls to his own experiences in Wisconsin.

“It was a vivid reminder about what we learned in Wisconsin,” he said. “And that is, to do what you said you were going to do, to go big, to go bold, to actually follow through on the promises you made throughout a campaign.”

Read a complete transcript of his remarks.

WALKER: Morning.


One Walker beats 14 runners.


That was one of my favorite bumper stickers years ago after we won our battle against the big government union bosses.


You might remember at the time there were 14 state senate Democrats in our state who fled the state and went to Illinois to help the special interest groups organize, and then eventually ship in thousands of protesters from across the country.

In fact, at one point, there were over 1,000 people occupying our state capitol. If you remember, the occupy moment didn’t start on Wall Street. It started on my street in Madison, Wisconsin.


At the time, they didn’t just limit themselves to our state capitol. They actually went to the executive residence, and eventually they found their way to our family home in Wauwatosa, which is more than an hour away from our state capital. I had death threats. My wife, Tonette, had threatening messages. My sons, Matt and Alex, who were in high school at the time, literally were targeted on Facebook.

They didn’t limit it just to us. They went around events around the state. In fact, they disrupted and interrupted, I should say, the dedication of a new welcome center on our state line. They interrupted a ceremony for the 100-year celebration of one of our great state parks. They even interrupted the anniversary of one of our historic technical colleges.

But the tipping point was probably — probably more than anything was the day when a bunch of protesters, ironically enough, dressed as zombies. Don’t ask me why, but that particular day they were the walking dead, I guess. They were — they were zombies. They were protesters who showed up and interrupted — no, wait, I should say it differently. They disrupted a law enforcement torch run for the Special Olympics.

At that time, it was a turning point indeed, because the people in our state, no matter where they stood on the issues, could see that the protesters were not like them. I mean, who would mess up an event for Special Olympic athletes? It was just remarkable.

But as I thought about that, thinking about speaking here, today I’m reminded of many of the stories I see these days around the country where protesters come en masse to try and disrupt public meetings; where angry mobs come to college campuses and try to stop people from speaking; where defenders of the status quo try to stop people who ran on an agenda from doing what they said they did — would do during the campaign.

WALKER: And as I hear these stories, I think to myself, been there, seen that.


You know, from our standpoint it’s exactly why we’ve been talking, not only here today, but to people over the last few months all across this great country, reminding our leaders about what happened in Wisconsin. About why we did what we did. And most importantly, about what’s happened since.

So let me share it with you a little bit here. In fact, I was reminded of late about that — just two weeks ago tomorrow — so less than two weeks ago, it was two weeks ago tomorrow that I saw the video of protesters trying to stop the new U.S. Secretary of Education from going into a public school, just up the way here in the District of Columbia.

And so I called Betsy DeVos, who’s a good friend of mine, and I said, you know what, been there, done that.


You don’t happen to remember in the midst of our protest the protesters as outrageous and radical as they were, they literally glued the door shut to an elementary school where I was going to come and read to the children.

Now the good news is that school was not to be deterred. They actually took the doors off the hinges and we were able to read to the kids.


But it was a vivid reminder about what we learned in Wisconsin. And that is, to do what you said you were going to do, to go big, to go bold, to actually follow through on the promises you made throughout a campaign.


You know, it’s not only conservatives and Republicans who like that. What we found in Wisconsin is that independent and, yes, even some discerning Democrats like it when you do the things you say you were going to do.


And so we — we’ve tried to apply that going forward. It’s kind of interesting; it works on both political and on policy fronts. Politically, even though, it’s not just a fact that I’ve won three elections for governor, although I did…


… in our state we not only won the three elections, but our Republicans in the legislature have actually gained seats in ’12, in ’14 and again in ’16.


Why? It’s because common sense conservative reforms work, they actually work and the people responded to them.

In our state we’ve seen over the last year — more people were employed in my state than ever before, ever. We have the lowest unemployment rate since January of 2001. We have one of the highest percentages of people overall in the workforce.

But beyond that, on economic and fiscal policy, we see that even though we inherited a $3.6 billion budget deficit, our state now has budget surpluses and we have one of the few state systems that has fully funded pension systems. And we have one of the lowest outstanding overall long term debt.

And so now, because of those economic and fiscal reforms actually working, the successes have lead to a positive budget and, in turn, we have what we call, a reform dividend. Remember the peace dividend under Reagan? We have a reform dividend.

So I want to spend just a couple minutes telling you about what we’re doing with that. First off, we’re reinvesting it — like a good company would, in the things that got us there in the first place. So, top of the list, taxpayers. We’re going to help lower the burden on the hardworking taxpayers.

In fact, so much so with this budget, the total amount — cumulative impact of our tax relief over eight years will be exceeded $8 billion. That’s cutting taxes by over $8 billion.


As we promise, property and income taxes will be lower in 2018 than they were in 2010 and — you’ll like this, we’re actually eliminating an entire tax for the first time since 1931 there will be no state tax on our property tax bills in Wisconsin.


WALKER: Beyond tax though, we’re investing in our workforce, probably like a lot of employers here. I hear from people all across my state that say, “We’ve got jobs; we just don’t have enough people to fill them.” So we’re investing in our workforce and we’re doing it in a way that demands better performance and more credibility and — and transparency from education and higher education.

In fact, how many college students do we have here today? Let’s see your hands and hear from you, all right.


How many — how many of those college students are from Wisconsin? Do I hear any of the…


OK, the Wisconsin students will appreciate this, because we’ve frozen tuition in our state four years in a row. And in this budget we’re actually going to lower tuition by 5 percent at all of our campuses.


Lower tuition, higher standards and actual free speech for everyone, including conservative students, faculty and speakers, at all of our University of Wisconsin campuses.


And the third big thing we’re doing is about helping people transition from government dependence to true independence through work.

You know, more than 20 years ago, my state, Wisconsin, led the way with welfare reform with a — a great leader by the name of Tommy Thompson. He was our governor back then.


Today we’re taking it another giant step forward, something we call Wisconsin Works for Everyone.

It’s a simple concept: Everyone who is able to work has to be enroll — employed at least 80 hours a month if they wanna get benefits like food stamps and housing vouchers. And for those that can’t find work, we require them to be employed in job training.

And now with a — a new president and a new Congress, we can actually go forward with a plan to ensure that anyone seeking welfare can actually pass a drug test.


You see, it’s simple: We want to help our fellow citizen, but we — we understand that — that public assistance should be a trampoline, not a hammock.

We ensure that everyone who is able to work is empowered to work and required to work, because true freedom and prosperity don’t come from the clumsy hand of the government. They come from empowering people to live their own lives and control their own destinies through the dignity that’s born of work.

And all those things show that conservative reforms work. But I just want to end with this.

I want to make a challenge to each of you here today to keep moving forward. Don’t stand still; keep moving forward.

Six years ago, I remember a reporter asked us — in the midst of all the protests in our capital, a reporter asked me, “Don’t the — don’t the protesters have a right to be heard?”

I said, “Absolutely. They absolutely have a right to be heard. This is America. Anybody can say or do what they want about the government. They can challenge the government no matter who’s in power.”

But I then said to that same reporter that I wasn’t going to let the noise of the protesters drown out the voices of the majority of people who had elected us to do the things that we were gonna do.


Sadly, in Washington it is common practice to ignore the will of the voters. For too long the — the media and the status quo defenders spend their time listening to the noise of the protests and the rhetoric of the pundits. That’s why I call Washington 68 square miles surrounded by reality.


My plea to you here today is to not get caught up in Washington, to not forget the voters, to not ignore the people who live in reality all across this country every single day. Don’t forget them. Don’t forget their families. Don’t forget their neighbors. Fight for them. Fight for liberty. Fight for freedom. Fight for America. Let’s keep it up.

(APPLAUSE) Thank you so much. God bless you. God bless this country. Have a great day.

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