Republican Gov. Scott Walker became a hero among conservatives nationally for repeatedly winning battles against Democrats and labor unions in Wisconsin. His current fight pits him against 16 rivals for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
It's proven difficult so far. After moving to the top of polls in Iowa—the linchpin of his strategy—he has fallen behind real estate mogul Donald Trump and ex-neurosurgeon Ben Carson there. In New Hampshire and nationally, his pitch as an "aggressively normal" Midwesterner has left him lagging even further behind.
He sat down with me during a New Hampshire swing meant to give his campaign new traction. What follows is a condensed, edited transcript of our conversation.
HARWOOD: What is aggressively normal about a career politician, which is what you are?
WALKER: Well, public servant. A career politician, in my mind, is somebody who's been in Congress for 25 years. People just asked me at the forum here in New Hampshire if I was for term limits. I said, "Absolutely." I've applied term limit to myself. I think you get beyond 10, 12 years in the same position, and you become stagnant. You start worrying about the next election.
I think most people don't care one way or the other, as long as it's somebody who gets the job done. The biggest problem most Americans have is that they don't see any results out of Washington. I fought, I won, I got results, and I did it without compromising my conservative principles. We fought our own establishment, our own party. Then we took on the unions and the Democrats. I think people want a fighter who can win, get the results.
HARWOOD: You talk about fighting and winning. Sometimes when I hear that, it sounds to me like the emphasis is on the fighting, almost like you're running to be the hockey team enforcer.
WALKER: Well, I think right now people do want a fight in America. They do want to take on anybody. People mistakenly think the fighting in Washington is what people are angry about. The fighting in Washington makes people angry because each side fights each other and nothing gets done. They want someone who's going to fight and win for them. Who's going to fight for the right reasons—not to take on the other party, but to fight and win for them. The difference is, fighting doesn't get you anywhere. Fighting and winning and getting results, that's what matters.