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Event Summary

Despite receiving numerous death threats and facing massive protests in his state’s capital, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was determined to restore Wisconsin’s economic health by reforming collective bargaining for public-sector union workers. AEI’s Marc Thiessen sat down with Governor Walker on Thursday to reflect on Walker’s experience in Wisconsin and to discuss their new book, “Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge.” Drawing on the lessons from his success in Wisconsin, Governor Walker emphasized the importance of remaining principled and of demonstrating leadership, which will in turn help earn the respect of voters. Walker also stressed the need to reject the false choice between raising taxes and accepting austerity, and alternatively encouraged ingenuity and optimism when tackling difficult policy issues.

Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard and Robert Costa of National Review then joined Thiessen to weigh in on the lessons from Walker’s experience in Wisconsin for a nationwide conservative comeback. Hayes ascribed Walker’s political success to the success of his reforms, arguing that producing results is the best form of politics. Costa reflected on Walker’s personality traits, arguing that the governor’s ability to connect with the working class has contributed to his strong political appeal.

All the panelists commended Walker’s conviction in the collective-bargaining reform fight and agreed that the governor of Wisconsin has an extremely bright political future.
–Justin Lang

Event Description

In 2011, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s chances of staying in office looked bleak. Protesters swarmed Madison, attempting to block the passage of his collective-bargaining reform legislation. His approval numbers fell, and he faced an unprecedented recall election. But in June 2012, Walker became the first governor in American history to survive a recall, winning with a higher share of the vote than he had in 2010.

At a time of confusion and infighting among Republicans, Walker argues that conservatives need not move to the center to win, but must offer bold, positive solutions to the nation’s challenges — and have the courage to implement them.

Join AEI’s Marc Thiessen as he sits down with Governor Walker to discuss their new book, “Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge” (Sentinel, November 2013). Following the discussion, political experts will explore the lessons to be drawn from Walker’s success in Wisconsin.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


12:45 PM

1:00 PM
Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin

2:00 PM
Book Signing with Governor Walker

2:30 PM
Robert Costa, National Review
Stephen Hayes, The Weekly Standard

Marc A. Thiessen, AEI

3:30 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Justin Lang at [email protected], 202.862.5948.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

Robert Costa is National Review’s Washington, DC, editor and a CNBC political analyst. Costa manages National Review’s Capitol Hill bureau, covering the White House, Congress, and national campaigns. Politico hailed him one of the top breakout political reporters of 2012 and The Washington Post recently called him one of the country’s best chroniclers of the Republican Party. In 2009, Costa became National Review Institute’s first-ever William F. Buckley Fellow, and from 2009 to 2010, he worked at National Review’s New York headquarters, assisting editor Rich Lowry with reporting projects and political coverage. Before joining National Review, Costa was a Robert L. Bartley Fellow at The Wall Street Journal. He is currently a member of the University of Notre Dame’s advisory board for journalism and authored a chapter in “Barack Obama and the New America: The 2012 Election and the Changing Face of Politics” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013).

Stephen Hayes is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard, covering national politics and international affairs. His work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. A Fox News Channel contributor and regular on “Special Report” with Brett Baier, Hayes has also appeared on CNN, The McLaughlin Group, MSNBC, CNBC, and C-SPAN. He is the author of two New York Times bestsellers: “Cheney: The Untold Story of America’s Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President” (HarperCollins, 2007) and “The Connection: How al Qaeda’s Collaboration with Saddam Hussein Has Endangered America” (HarperCollins, 2004). Before joining The Weekly Standard, Hayes served as a senior writer for National Journal’s Hotline. He also served as director of the Institute on Political Journalism at Georgetown University.

Marc A. Thiessen is an AEI scholar and former member of the White House senior staff under President George W. Bush. As an official in the Bush administration, Thiessen served as chief speechwriter to the president and to former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld. Before joining the Bush administration, Thiessen spent more than six years as spokesman and senior policy adviser to former Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC). He is a weekly columnist for The Washington Post, and appears regularly on Fox News and other news networks. His book on the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation program, titled “Courting Disaster” (Regnery Press, 2010), was a New York Times bestseller. He is the coauthor, with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, of “Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge” (Sentinel, November 2013). At AEI, Thiessen writes about US foreign and defense policy issues and national politics for and the AEIdeas blog.

Scott Walker is the 45th governor of Wisconsin and a leader in the Republican Governors Association. He was first elected governor in 2010, running on a platform of economic growth and job creation. In 2012, he became the first governor in American history to survive a recall attempt, winning with a higher share of the vote than he received in his original election. In 2002, Walker was elected Milwaukee County executive to reform the scandal-ridden county government. Over his eight years in that role, he successfully reduced the county’s debt by 30 percent and authored nine consecutive budgets without increasing the property-tax levy from the previous year. Before his tenure as Milwaukee County executive, Walker served as a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly. He also worked for the American Red Cross and IBM.

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