Oval Office aspiration
He is Marquette’s first alum to explore a run for president of the United States. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker talks about why he feels the call to lead.
How did your Marquette experience influence who you have become?
My time at Marquette is a big part of who I am. It gave me a hunger for knowledge, inspired my commitment to serve and strengthened my appreciation of great friendships.
What is your most important Marquette memory?
I have great memories of new student orientation and Senior Week. I was on the board for both and really enjoyed working with all of the volunteers.
Do you have any regrets about your time at Marquette?
Sure, I left during my senior year to work for the American Red Cross. After a few years, I met Tonette, we got married, then had Matt and then Alex. Back then, I figured I would finish up my degree over the years. I wish I had the time to go back over the years.
How did your understanding of the contributions you could make change after you assumed elected office?
After knocking on something like 14,000 doors to win my first election, someone asked me what that had to do with actually serving in office. Once in office it was clear that it takes that kind of determination to reach out to your colleagues and persuade them on any given issue. If I worked hard and had a solid argument, I could do great things for my constituents.
How did it evolve even further as you rose from state representative to county executive to governor?
In the legislative branch, it often takes years to get things done. As a chief executive, I can do things that bring a positive impact on the lives of people immediately. It is all the more reason I feel called to lead — to get good things done.
What is the most-essential lesson you’ve learned?
To make decisions based on what’s best for the next generation, not the next election.
What similarities do you and your sons share and discuss in their experiences as college students?
Matt and Alex are both involved in politics — from College Republicans to national conferences to helping out on my campaigns. Both our sons love to be involved in a big way. Each of them is a great speaker, and they often fill in for me at events. They are both great at technology. This keeps me up to speed on the latest and greatest in electronic media and digital campaigning. Matt and Alex also love sports, so I often check in with them on the latest scores and games. Both of them have been with me to the Rose Bowl to the Super Bowl and to Brewers playoff games.
Would you encourage Matt and Alex to pursue elected office?
First, Tonette and I will support them regardless of career path. Both are interested in politics, even though they have seen firsthand how difficult it can be on a person and his or her family. More than anything, we pray that they pursue God’s calling in their lives. If that is in politics and in government, they would each be great.
What exploration, for you and your family, has gone into discussing this decision?
Tonette and I spent a great deal of time thinking about it, talking about it and praying about it. Both boys said that if we run, they are all in.
You’ve moved from representing constituents in an assembly district to constituents in a county to a state, but all have been Midwesterners like yourself with Midwestern values. How will you broaden your scope to include constituents with different priorities and needs depending on where they live and how they live?
In America, there is a core set of beliefs. If you work hard and play by the rules, you should be able to do and be anything you want. The opportunity should be as equal as possible, but the outcome is up to each of us. These are values that people share all across this great country, and these values make up the American Dream.
You are traveling often and for longer distances. What have you seen that excites you?
Despite the challenges of the past six or seven years, people are not giving up. People are hungry for bold new leadership.
Some insights into influential mentors and choices for respite and fun:
> Most memorable mentors? Tommy Thompson and Mitch Daniels
> Touchstone that keeps you going? Prayer — prayer time by myself, as well as the prayers of others for me and our family.
> Favorite historical figures? Ronald Reagan, our founders and Abraham Lincoln
> For fun and relaxation? For respite, I like to ride my 2003 Harley-Davidson Road King. Together, Tonette and I enjoy watching movies.