John Locher / AP
Tuesday, July 14, 2015 | 3:07 p.m.
Promoting his opposition to unions and signaling a hawkish stance on foreign policy, Republican presidential candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker appeared at a Las Vegas Harley-Davidson dealership today to mark the beginning of his campaign.
Wearing motorcycle boots and jeans, Walker told the crowd of about 400 supporters, “We took on the unions and we won.” He went on to say, “If all those reforms can work in a blue state like Wisconsin, imagine what we can do for America.”
In his 30-minute speech, Walker pointed to how he and Wisconsin state lawmakers rolled back the state’s collective bargaining laws and eliminated a policy requiring state workers to pay union dues as evidence of his conservative bona fides.
The governor’s reputation among labor unions preceded him at the event, as 40 members from Culinary Workers Local 226 protested outside of the speech. Geoconda Arguello-Kline, the secretary treasurer of the union, painted Walker as out-of-touch, saying, “He wants to destroy the middle class.”
In a field of 15 Republicans vying for the presidency, Walker will have to stand out in Nevada and other key states. He arrived in Las Vegas fresh off his presidential announcement Monday in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Although Walker did not speak directly about his competition in the field of 15 candidates, he did take a veiled jab at former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose father and brother served as president, saying that his own family did not come from fame or fortune.
In the speech, Walker laid out several policy themes.
On foreign policy, he vowed that if elected, he would rescind the nuclear deal that President Barack Obama’s administration recently reached with Iran.
He vowed to protect America’s allies like Israel and signaled that he would not be shy about using his authority as commander in chief. “There will be times when America must fight,” he said. “And if we must, Americans fight to win.”
On domestic policy, Walker touched on a number of issues.
In a conversation with members of the press after the speech, Walker dismissed criticism of his appearance on Fox News Monday night in which in he described the minimum wage as one of the “lame ideas” supported by Democrats.
“I think talking about how low things are is a negative,” the governor said. “We should be talking about how much higher they should be. How you do it is not through governance.”
In his speech, Walker touted his policy record in Wisconsin, including adding voter ID requirements at polls, defunding of Planned Parenthood and provisions that require welfare recipients to pass drug tests and participate in job training programs.
After Nevada, Walker continues to roll out his candidacy with visits to other key states. He will go to South Carolina later this week and then on a “Winnebago tour” through Iowa this weekend.