Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has formally announced that he is running for president, becoming the 15th GOP candidate to enter the already-cluttered race. Best known for curtailing collective bargaining rights for public sector unions in his home state, Walker said in his kickoff speech that if elected he plans to lower taxes, challenge Russia and Iran and downsize the federal government.
A Harley Davidson-riding Midwesterner, Walker likes to portray himself as an average American. He loves to mention that he shops for bargains at Kohl’s and cuts coupons with his wife, Tonette. His opponents, not surprisingly, have a different take on his track record. The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, the largest group of unions in the U.S., released a statement after Walker’s announcement that said flatly, “Scott Walker is a national disgrace.”
Some people find him somewhat dull while others admire his considerable political skills. Either way, he has entered the fray and is a candidate worth getting to know. Below are some little-known facts about the jorts-rocking potential president.
* If elected, Walker would be the first U.S. president without a college degree since Harry Truman. Walker dropped out of Marquette University, a Catholic institution in Milwaukee, 34 credits shy of a degree. He claims he meant to earn the credits and graduate but never found the time.
* At age eight, Walker engaged in his first political endeavor. Living in Plainfield, Iowa, Walker noticed the city buildings didn’t have an Iowa state flag. According to his mother, Patricia Walker, he collected money in a mayonnaise jar to raise funds to purchase a flag.
* During his sophomore year at Marquette, Walker ran for student body president, but the race was not without controversy. He was found guilty of campaigning before the official start date, and one of his supporters was spotted canvassing door-to-door, which was prohibited. The university newspaper described Walker as “unfit for presidency.” Walker campaign workers reportedly tossed copies of the newspaper to prevent people from seeing it, though Walker and his supporters denied the charges.
* Although he can’t carry a tune, that doesn’t stop him from trying, according to Walker’s wife. He met his wife on karaoke night a local barbeque restaurant. Too embarrassed to go up and talk to her, he left his number on a napkin and walked out of the bar. At their wedding reception, he serenaded her with Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” She has since forbidden him from singing on the campaign trail.
* His father is a pastor. Reverend Llewellyn Walker moved his family from Walker’s birthplace in Colorado Springs to Plainfield, Iowa, for a job as an assistant pastor at the First Baptist Church. Later, the family moved again and Walker senior led the First Baptist Church in Delavan, Wisconsin. As a teenager, when his father was sick and couldn’t take the pulpit, Scott would lead sermons at the church.
* While battling with Wisconsin’s public unions in 2011, Walker received a phone call from a prankster posing as billionaire industrialist David Koch. In a recording of the call, Walker told the fake Koch he had considered planting “troublemakers” among the pro-union protesters in an effort to discredit them. After the phone call was widely distributed, Walker claimed God was teaching him a lesson through the incident.
* Walker is an Eagle Scout, the highest honor in the Boy Scouts.
* In February, after giving a speech about global trade in London, he dodged a question about whether he believed in the theory of evolution. When asked about his take on it, Walker punted: “That’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or the other. So I’m going to leave that up to you.” After the interview, his former high school science teacher, Ann Serpe, said she was embarrassed by Walker’s non-response. “He could have manned up a bit,” she told Time magazine.
* In June 2012, Walker faced a recall vote that could have removed him from office. Over one million people signed a petition to recall Walker as governor of Wisconsin, due in large part to his stance on unions. He won the vote by a margin of 53 percent to 46 percent.
* Walker has the lowest net worth of any presidential contender. In fact, he’s in the red. According to financial documents filed in January, he owes between $10,000 and $100,000.
* To help pay for his high school education, Walker worked part time washing dishes at a local restaurant and working the cash register at a McDonald’s. The McDonald’s where he worked is about 15 miles away from the McDonald’s where Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan worked.