Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who is moving toward launching a presidential bid, emphasized a series of in-state accomplishments in his State of the State speech Tuesday night, highlighting his desire for “common-sense solutions, not bureaucratic red tape.” 

“There are some in Washington who believe government should play a growing role in our lives and rarely question its expanse. Others have such a distain for government that they attempt to keep it from working at all,” Walker said. “Instead, we have a chance to lead here in Wisconsin.”

{mosads}The Republican governor suggested multiple times his audience “demand a government that is more effective, more efficient and more accountable to the public.”

Walker, who fended off a recall attempt two years into office and solidly won reelection in November, spent a good deal of his speech underscoring successes in the state during his four years in office, noting that the state’s strength stemmed from its people.

“I see it when I tour factories and farms and small businesses. I see it when I visit schools and hospitals and places of worship all across this great state,” Walker said. “Over the past four years, we have put the power back into their hands. In turn, Wisconsin is more free and prosperous.”

“If you remember nothing else, remember this – more people are working while fewer are unemployed,” he said.

While other more prominent potential presidential candidates are ratcheting up their operations in early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire, the Wisconsin governor has focused on policy, using his Tuesday night speech to begin to outline a series of early second-term agenda items like education reform and a streamlined government.

For example, Walker called for two state organizations focused on economic development to be combined into one “to improve services while being better stewards of the taxpayer’s money.”

Walker said every child, regardless of background, should have access to affordable education and said schools in the state should not be required to adopt CommonCore education standards, a position that will likely help Walker distinguish himself from other likely candidates such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. 

His speech also included policy ideas with national implications, given raging debate over approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. On energy policy, he mentioned collaborating with his attorney general to prepare a legal challenge to newly proposed federal energy regulations, noting their potentially “devastating” impact on manufacturing jobs in the state.

“Instead of fighting with states like Wisconsin, the federal government should work with us to find reasonable alternatives,” Walker said. “We can be both environmentally and economically sustainable.”

He also pledged lower property taxes in four years, but noted that property taxes in the state were already lower than in 2010 when he was first elected to office.

“How many governors can say that?” he said. 

Walker delivered his speech under added pressure for the 2016 GOP primaries. Bush and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney have both indicted they are seriously considering presidential runs, while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who also addressed his state Tuesday, has set up a leadership political action committee.

Walker on Tuesday took a shot at Christie, likely a primary rival should both enter the race, by joking about the New Jersey governor who was photographed hugging Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones after a game last week. On Sunday, Walker’s Packers routed the Cowboys 26-21.

“I had plenty of fun hugging owners in the stands at Lambeau Field,” said Walker, who at several points in his speech invoked the publicly owned Packers. 

“Green and gold runs deep,” said Walker, strutting into U.S. security and support for the military, but “red, white and blue runs even deeper.”

“Tonight we must stand together, Republican and Democrat, and denounce those who wish to threaten freedom anywhere in this world,” he said, mentioning last week’s deadly attack in France. 

“We need to proclaim that an attack against freedom-loving people anywhere is an attack against us all, and we will not allow it,” Walker said. “When we take a stand, we will make it easier to work for freedom and prosperity, right here in Wisconsin.”

 

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