MADISON (WITI) -- Gov. Scott Walker's new book "Unintimidated" hit book stores last week. The book is a behind-the-scenes account of the momentous labor fight of 2011. FOX6's Mike Lowe sat down with Gov. Walker on a topic he has never publicly discussed -- the threats he received during the protests. One was directed at his wife, Tonette, and threatened to "gut her like a deer."
MIKE LOWE: "You get into something that -- at the time -- was reported vaguely as 'threats.' And you get into great detail as to what your family went through. Would you mind sharing some of those things with us?"
GOV. SCOTT WALKER: "It was pretty intense. I used to say I had a stack about that high of threats against me -- but some of the most vivid, the ones that are most troubling to me, was one that was literally directed toward my wife. It was pretty vivid, because it talked about where we lived. Where the kids went to school. They knew where she worked. They knew that a governor had never been assassinated in the state of Wisconsin -- and what the letter said was maybe something worse -- was maybe we could do something to one of his sons. For me, that was one of the moments when my emotion really came through. I was pretty steady. I tried not to get caught up in this. I was angry. I was pissed off honestly, that someone would stoop to that level. It's one thing to take me on, but to go after someone's family like that? I assume the letter writer did it to intimidate me. If anything it made me more committed to wanting to do the right thing."
MIKE LOWE: "And that continued for months all the way through the recall?"
GOV. WALKER: "It did. It did. The height of it was -- we had a State Patrol car. We went out of a manufacturing site in La Crosse where they literally shook it. We had the protesters that tried to shout us down at Devil's Lake."
MIKE LOWE: "In some weird way, do you think that because the protests were so large, and were sustained for so long -- do you think that elevated your stature?"
GOV. WALKER: "There's no doubt about it."
MIKE LOWE: "There's no Scott Walker writing a book today unless you have these protests."
GOV. WALKER: "Not only that, but you go back to the recall election. We had people not only from across Wisconsin, but from across the country who helped us out financially. Those people who gave us those $25 or $30 donations did so because they saw not just the volume, but they started to hear these stories and they said, 'my goodness, somebody's got to step up and help these people."
During the Act 10 and recall battles, the public saw the unflappable, unwavering Gov. Walker refusing to negotiate with the unions. But at home, there were questions about his tactics from his own family.
MIKE LOWE: "You also have a moment, and this is one of those behind-the-scenes things that nobody would see where you and Tonette one night -- she turns to you and says something."
GOV. WALKER: "Yeah."
MIKE LOWE: "What did she say?"
GOV. WALKER: "She said 'why are you doing this? Why are you putting us through this -- not just as a family, but as a state. It dawned on me that I was doing a lousy job of explaining not just what we were doing, but more importantly why we needed to."
MIKE LOWE: "So your critics then would invariably say -- why did you not explicitly say this during the campaign when you had all this time to talk about what you wanted to do?"
GOV. WALKER: "Well the irony is, that I did. I ran an ad that said I'm going to ask public employees to pay 5.8 percent of the pension and 12.6 percent of their health insurance. What happened between the time of the election and the time that I did this are two key things. One, the numbers became even starker on November 3rd when we met with the State Budget team the day after the election. And two, the public employee unions for the state made it very clear what their position was. I would of loved to have gone in a different way, but as they made clear early on before I even took office, I had to try a different pathway."
MIKE LOWE: "And what convinced you that collective bargaining was the path?"
GOV. WALKER: "My hope was not only could I use it to balance the budget. But eventually we could use it to make our state and our local governments work better, and I would argue today that that's exactly what happened."
The book "Unintimidated" was co-authored by former George W. Bush speechwriter Mark Thiessen.