- The Washington Times - Friday, January 30, 2015

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Friday that ordinary Americans are tired of the heavy hand of Washington and are yearning for elected leaders to take a “fresh” bottom-up approach to governance that empowers states and localities.

Mr. Walker’s message coincided with the news that Mitt Romney was taking a pass on a third White House bid — setting the stage for a royal rumble over the fundraisers and high-dollar donors who had been waiting to see what the former Massachusetts governor would do.

“What I see in the states, and from the people in this country outside Washington is a craving for something new, something fresh,” Mr. Walker said at the American Action Forum think tank.

“To transform America, we really need to transfer power from our nation’s capital here in Washington back to the states and the cities in this country, where the people, the hard-working people in this country, can actually hold their government accountable,” he said.

Mr. Walker won re-election in November and has started ramping up his political operation in preparation for an expected presidential run.

This week he launched a non-profit group called “Our American Revival,” which will allow him to raise unlimited amounts of money that will help boost his efforts. And he hired Rick Wiley, former political director of the Republican National Committee, to put together his political operation.

He appeared at last weekend’s Iowa Freedom Summit and is scheduled to make an inaugural trip to New Hampshire, home of the first-in-the-nation primary, in March, where he will keynote an event sponsored by the state’s Republican Party.

Mr. Walker is viewed as one of the few candidates in the emerging field who could cobble together a coalition of supporters that include members of the GOP establishment as well as grassroots activists — something that Mr. Romney struggled to do in the 2012 race.

Mr. Romney’s decision not to run, which he announced in a conference call with supporters Friday, underscores the wide-open nature of the 2016 race.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have all expressed interest.

“I think we as Republicans have the strongest field of potential presidents, potential candidates, that I have ever seen in my political lifetime,” said Fred Malek, chair of the American Action Forum, which hosted the Walker event.

Mr. Malek said all of the top candidates will have money to compete, including Mr. Walker, who developed a national fundraising network during his high-profile battle with public employee unions in 2011.

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