EUREKA, Ill. — Standing on a stage at Eureka College where Ronald Reagan gave his first major speech as a college student, Scott Walker railed against Republicans in Washington, saying they have not achieved what they promised voters. Again and again, Walker promised that if he is elected president, he will "wreak havoc on Washington."
"To wreak havoc on Washington, America needs a leader with real solutions," Walker said in a speech here Thursday morning. "Political rhetoric is not enough — we need a plan of action. Actions speak louder than words. I have a plan to move this country forward."
Walker, currently the governor of Wisconsin, listed four ways he will wreak this havoc: stop withholding union dues from federal employee paychecks, overturn President Obama's immigration-related executive orders, repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, and terminate the Iran deal.
"Talk is cheap," Walker said. "Voters want action."
Walker has been struggling to regain his standing in the race to become the Republican nominee for president. When he launched his campaign in mid-July, he was considered one of the front-runners in a crowded field. But as political outsiders such as businessman Donald Trump have gained momentum, Walker has tumbled in the polls and struggled with missteps, worrying his donors and prominent supporters.
He is now trying to mount a comeback by focusing on policy, which he says voters care much more about than the grand promises that some candidates have made. Walker has laid out a plan for replacing the Affordable Care Act and has given his first foreign policy speech, which focused on the growing threat of the Islamic State militant group. On Monday, Walker plans to travel to Las Vegas to lay out his national labor policy ideas.
Walker devoted chunks of his 25-minute speech to praising Reagan, who has been his inspiration and, at times, his obsession. Walker was married on Reagan's birthday and hosts an annual Gipper-themed party.
"He was an eternal optimist in the American people," Walker said. "I share that optimism."
Walker recounted how he has been "tested" during his 4½ years as governor of Wisconsin, during which he weakened public unions in his state and then pushed for legislation that turned Wisconsin into a "right-to-work" state. Walker also boasted about providing more than $2 billion in tax relief and lowering the state's unemployment rate.
Walker then outlined a four-point plan he would put into action if he were president:
Stop withholding union dues from federal employee paychecks: Walker said federal workers should no longer have to give money to unions that back political candidates they do not support. Walker plans to lay out more details of his plan to take away power from the "big-government union bosses" in his Las Vegas appearance.
Overturn Obama's executive orders on immigration: Walker has repeatedly said that Obama acted unlawfully in using executive orders to change immigration policies rather than pushing legislation through Congress. Walker said he would end these executive orders on his first day as president.
Send Congress a plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act: Walker again plugged his "Day One Patient Freedom Plan," which would replace Obama's signature health-care law. He says that on the first day of his presidency, he would force members of Congress and their staff to use Obamacare, which he believes would encourage them to quickly pass his legislation.
Terminate the nuclear deal with Iran: For weeks, Walker has been saying that this is a "bad deal" and that he would rip it up on his first day in office. He reiterated that intent on Thursday.