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Wisconsin Governor Enters 2016 White House Race

  • VOA News

FILE - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, shown in June, becomes the 15th candidate to enter the crowded Republican field for president.

FILE - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, shown in June, becomes the 15th candidate to enter the crowded Republican field for president.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker joined the crowded field seeking the Republican Party's 2016 U.S. presidential nomination on Monday, saying he is in the race to "fight and win for the American people."

The 47-year-old Walker is the 15th candidate in the Republican contest.

Political surveys show him among the top Republicans seeking the nomination, with some of his biggest support in Wisconsin's neighboring state of Iowa, which holds the country's first nominating caucus next February.

The deeply conservative Walker has not run for national office before, but gained prominence in Republican circles by winning three statewide elections since 2010 in a state that has voted for Democratic presidential candidates over Republicans in the past seven national elections, dating to 1984.

A collection of national surveys about the Republican presidential campaign currently shows him trailing only former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the son and brother of two U.S. presidents.

But the field is so splintered no candidate has emerged as a frontrunner.

Survived recall vote

In 2012, Walker became the first U.S. governor to survive a recall election, a vote spawned by Walker's determined efforts to weaken public-sector unions in the state.

Because of his staunch Republican following, and adamant Democratic opposition, some U.S. political analysts call him America's most polarizing governor.

In a campaign video, Walker points to his political victories as a credential for his presidential campaign.

"We did it by leading," Walker says in the video. "Now, we need to do the same thing for America. It's not too late. We can make our country great again."

No foreign policy background

But his lack of foreign policy experience already drew some disdain earlier this year when he said his fight against Wisconsin government worker unions will equip him to lead the fight against Islamic State insurgents in the Mideast.

During his Wisconsin tenure, he has cut personal and corporate income taxes by nearly $2 billion, legalized the carrying of concealed weapons and made abortions more difficult to obtain.

Like many of his fellow Republican candidates, Walker relishes his criticism of Washington and the national government, calling it "68 square miles surrounded by reality."

Political surveys suggest Walker, the son of a Baptist preacher, has the potential to win broader support from Christian conservatives, Tea Party activists opposed to big government initiatives and business-oriented Republicans.

A college dropout, Walker casts himself as an average guy in touch with working-class America, part of a family that packs brown-bag lunches and clips coupons for department store sales.

Walker tweeted his presidential intentions early Monday but is set for a night-time campaign rally in the southeast Wisconsin community of Waukesha, just west of Milwaukee.

He is then campaigning over the next week in several states where Republicans will vote early next year in nominating contests.