WHEN: Today, Tuesday, September 1
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 John Harwood during a New Hampshire swing meant to give his campaign new traction.
A partial transcript from Speakeasy with John Harwood featuring Gov. Scott Walker follows. All references must be sourced to CNBC.com:
WALKER: My kinda sandwich.
WALKER: To me, ham and cheese is something I've had for-- boy, about 25 years. Two ham and cheese sandwiches most days packed in a brown bag. Obviously, I can't pack it myself these days, so we usually pick it up somewhere on the road.
HARWOOD: When you call yourself aggressively normal, what do you mean to communicate about what you are and what you aren't?
WALKER: I'm just a normal guy. I'm a guy from-- you know, who's got a wife and two kids. Happen to have a Harley.
HARWOOD: But on the other hand, what is aggressively normal about a career politician, which is what you are?
WALKER: Well, public servant. I mean I'm somebody who-- worked my way through college and I—
HARWOOD: That's not what Donald Trump says.
WALKER: No, but I mean think about this. A career politician, in my mind, is somebody who's been in Congress for 25 years.
HARWOOD: He said career politicians are what our problem is.
WALKER: Well, and I-- and I--
HARWOOD: 'Cause they don't do anything.
WALKER: And I think he's right. But-- but part of the reason why he gave me money in the recall election and the reelec-- and never asked me for anything in return--
WALKER: --was 'cause he said unlike a lot of those politicians in Washington. His words were, to me, "I like you 'cause you're a fighter."
HARWOOD: Nobody hugs Ronald Reagan closer than you do. He had in 1980, an electorate that was 88% white. And so did you in Wisconsin in 2014, I believe. That is not a winning formula nationally, because the national electorate is not 88% white.
WALKER: Nation as a whole is not gonna elect the next president. Twelve states are. Wisconsin's one of 'em. I'm sittin' in another one right now, New Hampshire. And how we're gonna win-- is, in a way, similar to how we won Wisconsin.
HARWOOD: What is Scott Walker's modern day version of the Reagan agenda on taxes?
WALKER: Well, we're gonna lay that out in about a month and a half.
HARWOOD: Should we look for something like-- Reagan '86 tax reform? I don't mean precisely, but like it, small number of rates-- marginal rate under 30%.
HARWOOD: Is that the kinda thing that you're gonna do?
WALKER: Yeah, that's a kinda-- that's a kind-- 'cause to me, again I believe, personally, what Reagan did was very effective. We need to get back to that kinda growth going forward.
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. 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. I think that's part of the appeal to some of the candidates who don't have elected offices experience is they say, "Hey, these guys are plain spoken. I think they might get things done." That's great. But if you want a proven track record of somebody who did exactly that, then I'm your guy.
HARWOOD: Governor thanks so much for doing this.
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