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With eye on '16, Wisconsin governor rouses CPAC crowd

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker rallies fellow conservatives at the Conservative Political Action Conference.


Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker sketched out a vision of conservative leadership during a Saturday morning speech to CPAC that could serve as the underpinnings of a future run for the White House. 

As Walker told Politico on Saturday that he could not rule out a bid for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, he brought conservative activists to their feet with a speech outlining his own achievements in Wisconsin.

"In the states, to be successful, we have to be optimistic. We have to be relevant. And most importantly, we have to be courageous," he said. 

Walker forced a contentious law eliminating public employees' collective bargaining rights through his state legislature in 2011, a brash initiative in a state that helped birth the labor movement. When unions launched an effort to recall Walker, Wisconsin voters retained him over a Democratic challenger. 

The Wisconsin governor's victory in the recall has helped transform him into a potential contender — although not a high-profile one — for the Republican nomination in 2016. 

"Would I ever be [interested]? Possibly. I guess the only thing I’d say is I’m not ruling it out," Walker told Politico about his potential future endeavors. 

To that end, Walker weighed in on the question about the GOP's future trajectory. And he said that conservatives should look to the states, rather than Washington, for future solutions. He told CPAC attendees that "real reform does not happen in our nation's capital, it happens in our nation's statehouses across this nation."

And Walker echoed Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, another prospective contender for the Republican nomination in 2016 who's argued for the GOP to avoid being defined by its legislative fights in Washington. 

"All too often in politics, we talk in terms of 'sequesters' and 'debt limits' and 'fiscal cliffs,'" Walker said.