[guest post by Dana]
Scott Walker, runner-up behind Rand Paul in the straw poll at CPAC, as well as currently leading in national polls, appeared on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. I’ve posted the more significant portions of the Q&A time. Questions about Obama’s faith and love of country are not included as I don’t believe them relevant in any way. Further, I have also excluded questions about Walker’s clumsily worded response about protesters and ISIS as he has already clarified his statement.
Using ground forces to combat ISIS:
WALLACE: All right. Let’s talk about leadership. You’re president of the United States right now.
Would you commit U.S. ground forces to combat ISIS in any way, shape or form?
WALKER: I believe we should not take any action off the table. I don’t want to run into the war. I’ve got a bunch of bracelets on my wrist, these Gold Star families, people who’ve given them to me at the funerals of their sons. And certainly I’m not eager to go do another one of those — those funerals in the future.
But by the same token, I don’t want any of these men or any other men and women like them to have died in vain. I think when we look at that and say there’s radical Islamic terrorism, it’s like a virus, we needed to be prepared to do what it takes to make sure it doesn’t spread.
WALLACE: You’re president today. You talk about leadership.
Would you commit U.S. ground forces, whether it’s a full-scale invasion, whether it’s Special Forces? Would you commit U.S. ground forces to a combat role?
WALKER: For me to do something like that would require a number of things.
Listening to the chain of command, particularly the Joint Chiefs, your national security advisers and others, as to what’s necessary and listening to the people who are actually out in the field is the best way to do that.
But then also bring together a coalition. Certainly, reaffirming our major asset, our major ally in the region, that being Israel, but also our other allies around the world.
We were just with David Cameron, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, a few weeks ago. I think increasingly, the Saudis and the Turks. There is a way we could put together a global coalition to take this on.
WALLACE: You say that you’re a fiscal conservative. But the latest projection, two — two year out projection from the state of Wisconsin is that you’re going to face a $2 billion budget shortfall. That sure doesn’t sound conservative.
WALKER: Well, that’s the state budgeting in the sense that when the fall request came in for every agency, including those that I don’t control came out — I mean the total tally, if I gave them everything.
The budget I presented on February 3rd to the state legislature actually ends that two-year period with a $123 million surplus, just like I finished each of the last four years.
WALLACE: But part of the way that you balance the budget, get rid of the $2 billion budget shortfall, is that you cut funding, state funding for the University of Wisconsin higher education system by 13 percent. You cut funding for the state parks system by 28 percent.
Governor, are those your priorities?
WALKER: What I’m doing with the University of Wisconsin system, a system I care about because I’ve got a son who attends one of those campuses, is I’m giving them the same sorts of tools I gave to public education four years ago. Four years ago, the same critics said that was going to devastate public education. I took away seniority in tenure and now, we can hire and fire based on merit. We can pay based on performance. We can put the best and the brightest in our classrooms –
WALLACE: But the University of Wisconsin says they’re going to have to raise tuition on students.
WALKER: But they’re not. We have a two-year tuition freeze.
WALLACE: I know but they’re saying after that.
WALKER: Going forward, we have a cap on it tied to inflation. And so, we will be much more affordable than just about any other campus in America.
And the reason I point out the schools is they said that it was going to lead to doom and gloom. Our graduation rates are higher. Our third grade reading scores are up. Our ACT scores at second best in the country.
We believe it’s not about austerity, it’s about reform. In Washington, they talk about cutting things. That’s about austerity. And what we’ve done in Wisconsin is push reforms. The reforms that worked before will work here.
WALLACE: While you’ve rolled back collective bargaining rights for public worker unions, during your reelection campaign, you said that a right to work law for private unions would be a distraction.
WALKER: It would bring in another group of protesters in large volume to the capital would distract from all the other things, tax reform, education reform, entitlement reform, UW reform all the things we want to do going forward.
WALLACE: Now, the Republican legislature is fast tracking right to work and you say you’re going to sign it.
Why the flip?
WALKER: Well, it’s not a flip. It’s I was a sponsor in the legislature. I never said I’d veto it. I asked for them not to make it a distraction early on in the session. I presented my budget, I laid out my agenda, they’re acting on that right now. Now is the perfect time.
So, it’s in the midst of the early things they brought up and the things that will come up —
WALLACE: So, why is it the distraction during the election campaign, but it isn’t now?
WALKER: I laid — well, I laid out early on, the things that I wanted to do with education reform, tax reform, entitlement reforms. We’ve been able to lay out on the table. It is a perfect time now because the legislature is not acting on those things in the budget, and will have signed it by next week.
WALLACE: Your critics accuse you of another flip. They note the fact that during the reelection campaign, when you were running against a woman, you ran this ad.
WALKER: There’s no doubt in my mind the decision of whether or not to end a pregnancy is an agonizing one. That’s why I support legislation to increase safety and provide more information for a woman considering her options. The bill leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor.
WALLACE: Do you believe that a woman has a right to end a pregnancy at any point during those nine months?
WALKER: Well, I think ultimately, I mean pro-life because that’s an unborn child. When I think of the ultrasound picture that Tonette, my wife, and I saw of our first son, who’s now going to be 21 this June, it’s indistinguishable not to recognize that it’s a human life. That’s why I’m pro-life.
My point is we acted on the grounds that we have legally to be able to act under the Supreme Court’s decision. We’ll act that way at the federal level if we were in a position like that, as well.
But ultimately, it is a life.
WALLACE: But ultimately it’s her choice?
WALKER: Well, legally, that’s what it is under the guidelines that was provided from the Supreme Court.
WALLACE: And would you change that law?
WALKER: Well, I — that’s not a change you can make. The Supreme Court ultimately has made that.
I believe in the right to life and I believe that there are other things that can be done at both the state and the federal level.
WALLACE: Over the years, you have supported comprehensive immigration reform and a right to citizenship for people who pay penalties. And this for the 11 million people who are in this country illegally.
Here’s what you said to a Wisconsin newspaper in 2013.
WAUSAU DAILY HERALD: Can you envision a world where with the right penalties and waiting periods and meet the requirements, where those people can get citizenship?
WALKER: Sure, yes. I mean, I think it makes sense.
WALLACE: Question, isn’t that amnesty?
WALKER: Well, I don’t believe in amnesty. And part of the reason why I made that a firm position is I look at the way that this president has mishandled that issue. I’m one of the governors that joined — I was one of the first governors that joined the lawsuit that has been successful, at least on this initial technicality. And I hope we prevail ultimately throughout the courts.
And then going forward, I think the way you enforce it is not through amnesty. I think the better approach is to enforce the laws and to give employers, job creators, the tools like E-Verify and other things, to make sure the law is being upheld going forward.
WALLACE: The question was, can you envision a world where if these people paid a penalty, that they would have a path to citizenship? And you said, sure, that makes sense.
WALKER: I believe there’s a way that you can do that. First and foremost, you’ve got to secure that border or none of these plans make any sense.
WALLACE: But it’s a little bit slippery here. Back when you were the Milwaukee County executive, you actually supported the Kennedy-McCain comprehensive immigration plan.
Are you basically saying as part of a comprehensive plan, tough enforcement, E-Verify, the 11 million people already here paid penalty, they get citizenship?
WALKER: No, I’m not talking about amnesty. And even I said the reason for that is over time —
WALLACE: But you said you supported it.
WALKER: And my view has changed. I’m flat out saying it. I’m — candidates can say that. Sometimes they don’t. I’m saying my —
WALLACE: So, you’ve changed from 2013?
WALKER: Absolutely. I look at the problems we’ve experienced for the last few years. I’ve talked to governors on the border and others out there. I’ve talked to people all across America.
And the concerns I have is that we need to secure the border. We ultimately need to put in place a system that works. A legal immigration system that works.
And part of doing this is put the onus on employers, getting them E-Verify and tools to do that. But I don’t think you do it through amnesty.
On being target of the week:
WALLACE: Are you surprised that you have come under so much fire so early? And in a sense, do you see it as a back-handed compliment that perhaps the other side — Democrats, liberals — are afraid of you?
WALKER: Oh, I think there’s no doubt about it. I mean if they look at Wisconsin, we didn’t just win three times in four years. We won the highest percentage of any Republican governor in the country of Republican voters.
But that’s not enough to win the Wisconsin. I had to take almost a 12-point margin with Independent voters in the state of Wisconsin, in a state that hasn’t gone Republican for president literally since 1984, not only when I was in high school, but as I joked yesterday, I had a full head of hair at that point.
To me, I — I think voters recognize that people in the center want, in many ways, what many people in the base of the Republican Party want. And that’s not a litany of issues. What they want is someone who is going to fight and win for them, someone who is going to tell them what they’re going to do and then ultimately go out and lead.
There’s more at the link.