Walker continues presidential campaign push in South Carolina
Gov. Scott Walker pushed through a marathon trip to South Carolina Wednesday, despite flight delays that caused him to travel all night to reach his planned campaign stops.
The governor officially announced his presidential campaign for the GOP nomination Monday in Waukesha, and since has traveled to Las Vegas Tuesday and made a three-city swing through South Carolina Wednesday.
He started the day at a North Charleston Harley-Davidson dealership, telling the crowd of a couple hundred who lined up before 7 a.m. that he’d worn his Harley boots.
“You know what? I’m Scott Walker, I’m running for president and I want your vote,” Walker said. “I’m not going to let you down either.”
South Carolina voters looked on with both an enthusiastic and skeptical eye, admitting that there was a long race ahead with 16 expected candidates in the GOP field.
“Truthfully, Scott and [Sen. Marco] Rubio are probably my two favorites,” said Louie Cameron, of Georgetown. “I’m going to stick by them until one of them messes up.”
The governor’s stump speech mirrored his speech in Waukesha Monday, covering his union-fighting past and promoting a possible national-security fighting future.
One couple said they were disappointed he hadn’t mentioned immigration reform in the speech.
“He’s got to talk about the border to get my vote,” said Michele Leber, of Charleston.
The campaign rolled on to Lexington, a suburb of Columbia, and Mauldin, a suburb of Greenville, where he hit two barbecue joints and also saw large crowds.
With the campaign rolling on, and Walker boasting of little sleep, News 3 asked how he planned to effectively do his day job as governor of Wisconsin.
“I already checked in three times with my chief of staff,” Walker said Wednesday morning. “I know where the Senate is at right now, talking to my chief of staff and Sen. Fitzgerald. Just like any good small business owner, you can do as much work talking to customers on the road as you can back in the home office.”
Those customers, or voters, turned out by the hundreds across South Carolina Wednesday to see the start of Walker’s next political chapter.
“I just love the political process and love to see at the very beginning of this what happens, the conversations that go on and the way they debate things,” said Paula Eill, of Taylor, South Carolina.
Ed Pugh, of Sumter, South Carolina, was very confident about Walker’s odds in a crowded field.
“I think his chances are pretty daggone good,” Pugh said. “And after looking at that crowd out there today, I think it’s really good.”
Wisconsin natives turn out in South Carolina
Despite the campaign stops being hundreds of miles from Wisconsin, there was plenty of representation by natives of the Badger state.
Madison native and University of Wisconsin graduate Arthur Field made his home in Charleston when he graduated in 1968, and is now trying to make Wisconsin’s governor president.
“A lot of people thought the W [on my hat] meant Walker,” Field said. “I thought, what the heck, today, maybe it will. So I wore it so maybe he’d recognize me and know I was a Badger.”
He wasn’t the only Wisconsin native showing up early to see the South Carolina campaign kickoff. At the Lexington stop, it looked like the front row of a Packer game, with Keith Anderson and his two kids decked out in jerseys.
“It’s such an amazing feeling inside our hearts to see someone from our home state doing it there and coming around the nation now to share his message,” Anderson said.
But Walker seems aware that there simply aren’t enough people who know him yet, talking extensively in his stump speech about his record, his backstory and even shopping at Kohl’s.
“You guys all report that huge numbers of people don’t know enough to make a decision about me so I’m telling them who I am,” Walker told reporters Wednesday. “As folks have seen, many of the folks from Wisconsin who cover me, I’m a wide open guy.”
Leslie Bean is trying to help the governor out with that introduction. She moved to York, South Carolina, from Sheboygan a year ago, and said she’ll now be working to get him elected.
“You have a lot more conservative base here than you do in Wisconsin,” Bean said. “Just a lot more conservatives and common-sense people.”
Walker went from South Carolina to a high-dollar fundraiser in Atlanta, Georgia, Wednesday night. He’ll spend the day Thursday in New Hampshire and then the three days following in Iowa.