CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Governor Scott Walker was one of 10 candidates to take part in the first Republican presidential debate held Thursday, August 6th in Cleveland, Ohio at the Quicken Loans Arena. It was a big night for Republicans -- as no Republican has ever won the presidency without help from Ohio voters.
Walker flew out to Cleveland after making a stop at the Wisconsin State Fair -- for the opening ceremonies. Walker said the fair is an annual event he loves -- so he wanted to be there Thursday.
The following candidates took part in the debate:
The following seven candidates took part in an earlier forum:
The first question Walker was asked on Thursday night was a question about abortion, posed by FOX News moderator Megyn Kelly.
Walker said he is pro-life -- and said there are other alternatives to protecting a mother's life.
"I believe that is an unborn child that's in need of protection out there...and I've said many a time that that unborn child can be protected and there are many other alternatives that will also protect the life of that mother. That's been consistently proven. Unlike Hillary Clinton, who has a radical position in terms of support for Planned Parenthood, I defunded Planned Parenthood more than four years ago, long before any of these videos came out. I've got a position that's in line with everyday America," Walker said.
In July, Walker signed a bill that outlaws non-emergency abortions at or beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy. Wisconsin became the 15th state with a 20-week abortion ban.
The second question Walker was asked concerned immigration -- and why he changed his stance on providing a path to citizenship for immigrants.
Walker said he listened to the American people -- saying "people want a leader who will listen." He also said he listened to other elected officials on this issue.
In March, Walker said his "view has changed" from a 2013 stance on immigration and he no longer supports reforms that would allow undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States.
"My view has changed. I'm flat-out saying it. Candidates can say that. Sometimes they don't," Walker said on FOX News Sunday in March.
FOX News Host Chris Wallace pressed Walker on comments he made to the Wausau Daily Herald in 2013. Asked if he could envision a world in which, with penalties and waiting periods in place, undocumented immigrants could qualify for citizenship. His response then was, "Sure, yes. I mean, I think it makes sense."
But Walker said he doesn't believe in amnesty.
"I look at the problems we've experienced for the last few years. I've talked to governors on the border and others out there. I've talked to people all across America. And the concerns I have is that we need to secure the border. We ultimately need to put in place a system that works -- a legal immigration system that works. And part of doing this is put the onus on employers, getting them E-Verify and tools to do that. But I don't think you do it through amnesty," Walker said.
The third question for Walker came from moderator Megyn Kelly, who asked Walker about comments he made in February -- indicating the United States needs to gain partners in the Arab world. Kelly asked which country has the potential to be our greatest partner.
Walker said the United States needs to focus on the Arab partners we have -- citing Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Walker said he met with Saudi leaders and leaders from the United Arab Emirates earlier this year -- and asked them what is the greatest challenge in the world today? Walker said those leaders said it is the disengagement of America. Walker said we have been leading from behind on the Obama-Clinton doctrine, and we need to lead again.
Donald Trump was asked about donations he has made to other political campaigns -- including to Hillary Clinton, and FOX News moderator Bret Baier said Trump explained away those donations by saying he did that for business-related favors, and that Trump said: "When you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do."
Baier asked what Hillary Clinton has done for Trump.
Trump said he told Hillary Clinton to: "Be at my wedding." And that Clinton had "no choice," because he had donated to her campaign.
To that, Governor Walker interjected -- saying: "We should be talking about Hillary Clinton because everywhere in the world she touched is more messed up today."
FOX News moderator Chris Wallace asked Walker about unemployment and jobs -- and his promise to create 250,000 jobs in his first term as governor of Wisconsin. Wallace said Wisconsin added barely half the amount of jobs Walker promised, and ranked 35th in the country for job growth.
Wallace said now that Walker is running for president, he is promising an economic plan where everyone will earn a piece of the American dream -- and asked Walker, given his record in Wisconsin, why voters should believe him?
Walker noted that voters in Wisconsin just elected him as governor for the third time. He said unemployment in Wisconsin was over 8% when he was first elected, and it's now under 6%. He also said the rate at which people are working in Wisconsin is almost five points higher than nationally.
"The voters elected me for a third time because they wanted someone who would aim high -- not aim low," Walker said.
FOX News moderator Bret Baier asked Governor Walker about the Iran deal -- saying it was just Wednesday, August 5th when President Barack Obama criticized Republican lawmakers trying to block the Iran nuclear deal.
Walker has said he would tear up the deal on day one as president -- and Baier asked: "If it is undone, what then?"
Walker said he remembers as a kid, tying a yellow ribbon around the tree in front of his home during the 444 days Iran held 52 Americans hostage.
"Iran is not a place we should be doing business with. You terminate the deal on day one. You reinstate the sanctions authorized by Congress. You go to Congress and put in place even more crippling sanctions, and you convince our allies to do the same. This is not just bad with Iran -- it is bad with ISIS. It is tied together. We need a leader who is going to stand up and do something about it. It is yet another example of the failed foreign policy of the Obama-Clinton doctrine," Walker said.
FOX News moderator Megyn Kelly asked Walker about a claim by many within the Black Lives Matter community (and beyond) that overly-aggressive police officers targeting young African-Americans is the civil rights issue of our time -- does he agree or disagree?
Walker said the most important thing when it comes to law enforcement officials is training -- something Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, whom Walker says is a friend, has talked about.
"Making sure that law enforcement professionals -- not only on their way into their profession, but through their time, have the proper training, particularly when it comes to use of force, and that we protect and stand up and support those men and women who are doing their jobs in law enforcement, and for the very few who don't, that there are consequences to show that we treat everyone the same here in America," Walker said.
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke was in the audience inside Quicken Loans Arena on Thursday night.
FOX News moderator Bret Baier asked Walker about Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggression in Ukraine.
Governor Walker answered by saying: "If I am president, he won't think about that."
Walker brought up recent Russian/Chinese cyberattacks, and said: "It's sad to think right now, but probably the Russian and Chinese governments know more about Hillary Clinton's email server than the members of the United States Congress. That has put our national security at risk."
Walker said Putin believes in the old Lenin adage:
“Probe with abayonet: if you meet steel, stop. If you meet mush, then push."
"Under Obama/Clinton, we found a lot of mush over the last few years. We need to have a national security that puts steel in front of our enemies. I would send weapons to Ukraine. I would work with NATO to put forces on the eastern border of Poland and in the Baltic nations. I would reinstate and put back in place the missile defense system that we had in Poland and the Czech Republic," Walker said.
FOX News moderator Megyn Kelly asked the closing question to each of the 10 candidates: "Have any of the candidates received a word from God on what they should do and take care of first as president?"
Walker called himself "an imperfect man" who has been redeemed for his sins by the blood of Jesus Christ.
"I know that God doesn't call me to do a specific thing. God hasn't given me a list -- a Ten Commandments if you will of things to enact on the first day. What God calls us to do is follow his will. And ultimately, that's what I am going to try to do. I hope people have seen in my state -- even with the big challenges I took on, when I had over 100,000 protesters in and around our Capitol -- when I thought I was trying to do the right thing, it wasn't just how I took on those political battles. It was ultimately how I acted. Not responding in kind, not lashing out, but just being decent going forward, and living my life in a way that would be a testimony to him and our faith," Walker said.
Walker had this to say in his closing statement during the first Republican presidential debate:
"I'm a guy with a wife and two kids -- and a Harley. One article called me 'aggressively normal.' I ran for governor because I was worried about my kids' future. Then I took on the big government union bosses, and we won. They tried to recall me -- and we won. They targeted us again, and we won. We balanced the budget, cut taxes, and turned our state around with big, bold reforms. It wasn't too late for Wisconsin. And it's not too late for America. That's why I ask for your vote."
Governor Walker will be back on the campaign trail Friday and this weekend.
After making a campaign stop in Cleveland on Friday, Walker will travel to Georgia and South Carolina this weekend for several campaign stops in the two early primary states.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 7
Gov. Scott Walker campaign stop
11:30 AM EDT
3106 St. Clair Avenue NE
Cleveland, OH 44114
SATURDAY, AUGUST 8
Gov. Scott Walker campaign stop
12:00 PM EDT
3420 Piedmont Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30305
Gov. Scott Walker delivers remarks at the 2015 RedState Gathering
4:30 PM EDT
Intercontinental Buckhead Hotel
3315 Peachtree Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30326
SUNDAY, AUGUST 9
Gov. Scott Walker campaign stop
11:30 AM EDT
1000 N. Pine Street
Spartanburg, SC 29303
Gov. Scott Walker meet and greet
1:00 PM EDT
294 Peachoid Road
Gaffney, SC 29341
Gov. Scott Walker meet and greet
4:15 PM EDT
American Legion Frank Roach Post 34
524 Heckle Boulevard
Rock Hill, SC 29730
Rep. Mandela Barnes (D-Milwaukee) had this to say about the GOP presidential debate:
"They have to out conservative each other and unfortunately, well fortunately for Democrats, fortunately for the country, their ideas their principles don`t line up with the American electorate. They don`t line up with a constantly changing United States of America," Rep. Barnes said.
DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement on the GOP debate:
“During both debates (Thursday), we saw more of the out of date and out of touch policies that we’re used to seeing from these Republican candidates. Among the biggest losers of the debate were American women, who were attacked at every turn. We failed to hear any solutions for income inequality, and not even a mention of college affordability, equal pay, raising the minimum wage, or the Voting Rights Act on its fiftieth anniversary.
The Republican presidential candidates proved that the GOP is solely focused on taking us backwards with policies that cut taxes for the wealthy and leave the middle class behind.
The Americans are going to ask themselves, which one of the candidates on that stage will look out for me? The answer is clear: not a single one of them.”
The Wisconsin AFL-CIO issued this statement:
“(Thursday) we heard the same failed policies from Scott Walker that have plummeted Wisconsin to 38th in the nation in job growth, withered Wisconsin’s middle class, and decimated workers’ rights on the job,” said Phil Neuenfeldt, President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO. “Scott Walker is not for the everyday American who works hard and is still struggling to make ends meet in this economy. Scott Walker is for the rich and powerful and his policies help the special interest 1% at the expense of the rest of us.”
“Make no mistake Scott Walker has put Wisconsin’s economy in the dump,” said Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO. “Scott Walker’s glossy packaged talking points may woo David Koch, but real working Americans can put two and two together -- they don’t want to see what’s happened to Wisconsin happen to America. Gov. Walker’s refusal to support commonsense policies like the minimum wage, expansion of Medicaid, investment in infrastructure, and the freedom to have a strong union in the workplace deem him unfit to lead our country.”