Scott Walker Says Supporters Have Suggested Walker-Rubio 2016 Ticket

Some who have talked to the governor privately about a possible pairing say they have been surprised by how seriously he seems to be taking the prospect.
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Scott Walker: I Like Marco Rubio

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on Thursday talked positively about a Republican presidential ticket—potentially announced even before the first nomination balloting—that would include himself and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

In a Bloomberg Politics interview, the likely candidate also expressed agreement with President Barack Obama on the pressing issue of fast-track trade legislation. On the administration's decision to deploy an additional 450 U.S. troops to train and assist Iraqi forces in fighting Islamic State militants, he offered a nuanced response that was nonetheless critical of the president.

"It recognizes that we definitely need to do more there," said Walker, who has previously declined to rule out a full-scale American re-invasion of Iraq. "But I think it’s critical that this is not enough. Just sending more troops there is not enough if we don’t lift those restrictions on the people that are already there."

Walker, 47, isn't expected to formally enter the race until early July, after his state has completed a two-year budget plan. Still, he's apparently given some consideration and had discussions already about a potential running mate, with the focus on Rubio.

“I've actually had quite a few people, grassroots supporters, donors, and others who have made that suggestion,” he said when asked about a Walker-Rubio ticket.

“For now, you know, Marco is a quality candidate,” Walker said. “He's going to be formidable in this race as things progress. And if we were to get in, we'd be as well, and we'll see where things take us.”

Walker was in Utah to meet with potential financial supporters and to speak at a summit hosted by 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney that's attracted six declared and likely presidential candidates. 

Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida and 2016 U.S. presidential candidate, speaks during the inaugural Roast and Ride in Boone, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, June 6, 2015.

Senator Marco Rubio speaks during the inaugural Roast and Ride in Boone, Iowa, on June 6, 2015.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Walker said both he and Rubio often hear the suggestion that they should combine forces, potentially even before the first nomination voting in Iowa in February 2016, as a way to stand out amid a crowded field. “We'd just probably have to arm-wrestle over who would be at the top of the ticket,” he said.

Some who have talked privately to Walker about a possible pairing with Rubio say they have been surprised by how seriously the Wisconsin governor seems to be taking the prospect. At this phase of presidential campaign, the norm would be for a White House hopeful to summarily dismiss such a move, in public and in private.

Walker said he likes governors and their executive experience better than senators as potential presidents and vice presidents, but that Rubio stands out.

“I do like Marco Rubio,” he said. “I think he and I have similar thoughts on national defense and foreign policy.”

Walker noted how he tweeted greetings to Rubio, 44, for his birthday last month, a move that also underscored his own relative youthfulness amid a mostly older Democratic and Republican field.

“Marco, happy birthday from one 40-something to another,” Walker said of his greeting. “There’s certainly a generational issue there.”

In the most recent Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll, Walker led in the state that starts the nomination process, while Rubio was the most popular second choice among likely Republican caucus participants.

Trade, tax policy

Walker said he supports giving Obama the authority to submit trade agreements to Congress for an expedited, up-or-down vote without amendments. “If we don't go down this path, we're going to be at a competitive disadvantage, and so I think it just makes sense,” he said.

At the same time, like many Republicans who support granting the trade authority recent past presidents have had, Walker said the deal would allow the Republican-controlled Congress to review Obama's actions.

“If this president were to give them a bad deal, they should hold him accountable and vote it down,” he said. “They have every right to do that under the proposal.”

On taxes, Walker said he'd look for ways to lower them especially for those in “the middle of the bracket” as well as for businesses. “I certainly wouldn't be talking about anybody paying any more,” he said.

The popular home-mortgage deduction is not a place where Walker would look for additional revenue to balance the cuts he'd like to see made, he said. “We're going to look at the entire tax code and what the best way to reform is, but I think homeownership is an important part of living the American dream,” he said.

Walker expressed similar views about the popular deduction for charitable contributions.

Questioned on the most positive and negative aspects of Bill Clinton's presidency, Walker offered some faint praise for budget balancing and a comment directed at Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.

"Certainly, all the scandals were the worst part," he said. "I think a lot of Americans are worried we're going to get a repeat of a lot of those scandals again."

Walker said he just finished reading "Reagan at Reykjavik," a book about his favorite president's historic 1986 summit with Mikhail Gorbachev that proved to be a key turning point in the Cold War.