Steinhauser: Walker details big ride through NH on his Harley
NASHUA -- Scott Walker's ready to ride his Harley across New Hampshire.
"I've been invited by many folks, whether it's for bike week or some other activities. I ride a Harley-Davidson 2003 Road King. So I'll probably find a way to spend a little bit of time campaigning here on a motorcycle," the Republican governor of Wisconsin said in a sit down interview with NH1 News.
"It's a perfect state. I can probably go out in two days, hit all ten counties, and make my way around the state," Walker added.
Walker spoke one-on-one with NH1 News Saturday night, minutes after giving the keynote speech at the New Hampshire GOP dinner that concluded the state party's First-in-the-Nation Leadership Summit. Nearly 20 Republican presidential candidates and potential contenders spoke to nearly 700 activists at the two-day confab at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Nashua.
In March, Walker signed a so-called right-to-work bill into law in Wisconsin. The measure bans requirements that private sector workers pay union fees. Wisconsin became the 25th state with such a law, which are strongly opposed by organized labor.
Asked if he were president, would he sign a national right to work law, Walker, who's a strong advocate of states' rights, said "that's one we want to balance. I think we want to make sure the states are ultimately the ones that get to make choices like that. But it's also a freedom issue, giving people the ability to have the freedom to work where they want to work, to live their own lives I think is not just an important issue when it comes to labor issues, I think it's important overall."
Walker leads in the two most recent public opinion surveys in the Granite State of those likely to vote in next February's GOP presidential primary, including the latest NH1 News poll. Asked if he's worried that he's peaking too soon, Walker said "for us the only poll that matters is the one that's taken on election day."
But he added that "I guess it's better to be ahead than behind in things."
Walker's sticking with his timeline when it comes to any announcement on a White House bid.
"We've got legislative secession to finish up and a budget to sign hopefully in early June and we'll see what happens after that," he said.
Walker's trip to New Hampshire came just a few days after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who's also likely to run for the GOP nomination, came to the first-in-the-nation primary state to propose entitlement reform that included means testing and raising the eligibility age for Social Security.
Asked if he agreed with Christie's proposals, Walker said "if I were to choose to get into the race for president, part of our reform package would lay out what should be done with entitlements and in the coming months should we get into the election, we'll lay that out in greater detail."
A recent Marquette University poll in Wisconsin indicated widespread opposition to Walker's proposals this year to cut funding for K-12 education and to the state's university system. But Walker wasn't fazed, telling NH1 News that "today in K through 12 education, graduation rates are actually higher than when I first took office. Third grade reading scores are better than when I first took office. ACT scores are now second best in the country. I think in the end when our budget's completed by June, the budget all set into law, we'll be positive for education in the state of Wisconsin."
During his speech Saturday night to Republican activists, Walker highlighted his modest upbringing. Walker said he wasn't touting his humble beginnings to make a contrast with former Florida Gov. Bush, a likely top rival for the nomination, who happens to come from a very famous family.
"Mine isn't a contrast as much as it is that's who I am, that's my story. It's part of what makes me unique and the perspective I have and how I try to look out for everyday hardworking people. And it's what I've done as a governor and certainly if I chose to run I think I'd want to talk about how I connect to everyday people whether it's in New Hampshire or anywhere else across the country," Walker said.