(Photo: Todd Plitt for USA TODAY)
Q: You and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan are about the same age, from about the same place. . . .
Grew up about 15 miles down the road from each other. Both worked at
the McDonald's as kids, flipping burgers, just down the way.
Q: Is it conceivable you both would run for the Republican nomination in 2016?
Paul and I talk almost every week on a variety of issues, everything
from politics to policy to hunting to the (Green Bay) Packers to the
kids and everything in between. We haven't talked about this. I think
he's focused on trying to get the budget reforms going forward. I'm
focused on...making the state better. Who knows what the future will
bring? It's an interesting question.
Paul grew up 15 miles to the
west of me. Reince Priebus, who's the RNC (Republican National
Committee) chair, grew up about 20 miles to the east of me. There must
have been something in the water at the time....We say it's kind of a
Q: Presumably, before you two ran, you would talk about it?
There's no doubt whatever the future holds, the both of us will be
talking to each other. But for now I'm really focused on Wisconsin; he's
really focused on the budget.
Q: Given the record low ratings
for Congress, would Republicans be smart to turn to a governor rather
than a Washington officeholder in 2016?
A: Hands down,
there's no doubt as much I love Paul and some other people mentioned,
in my mind it's almost a given that not only for the future of the party
but for the future of the country we need to elect either a current or a
former governor....I think most Americans have had it with almost
everybody in Washington in either party. They want people who will come
in and completely shake things up.
Q: Did the gubernatorial
elections in New Jersey and Virginia this month show that the GOP needs
to project a more moderate image?
A: Out of the 30
governors in America who are now Republican ... all 30 of them are
probably more conservative than Mitt Romney is. It's not that we need to
change our core principles....Republican governors are much more
optimistic. We have a visionary, aspirational goal of what we want to do
for our states. We talk in ways that are much more relevant. We stay
focused on economic and fiscal issues, and then we show we've got the
courage to act on those....That's a stark contrast to what we see in
Q: You won the recall election in June 2012 by
seven percentage points. In November, Romney lost state by seven points.
Could he have carried Wisconsin?
A: The day after the recall
election, I felt that Mitt Romney could have won the election ... if he
showed voters in my state and other battleground states that the R next
to his name didn't just stand for Republican, it stood for Reform. For
whatever reasons, the national campaign in many ways failed our nominee
because they kept saying no, keep the focus on the president. People are
down and out about the economy. They're upset about the president. If
we just make it a referendum on him, we'll win.
And by failing to
make a positive argument as to why a Mitt Romney presidency would be
better for all Americans, what they did was effectively allow the
Obama-Biden campaign to define Mitt Romney as - the R next to his name
wasn't Republican, it stood for Rich Guy, who only cares about rich
Q: What should Republicans be doing now about Obamacare?
Continue to talk about it, but I think Republicans need to be very
careful....The rollout of the system is an abysmal failure. The website
is a joke. ... (But) in no way (should) we look like were relishing this
failure, that we're excited about it. ... Republicans need to be very
careful about not looking like we're the ones pushing Obamacare over the
cliff, and then ... we've got to offer a better alternative.
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