MADISON, Wisconsin — Gov. Scott Walker continues to use the release of his book "Unintimidated" to tout the leadership of governors as the future of the Republican Party, talk up his own political victories in Wisconsin and outline a platform for a possible 2016 presidential run.
Walker hit on all those themes Thursday before a friendly crowd at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. He skipped the Republican Governors Association meeting to Arizona for a series of promotional events this week tied to the book's release.
While Walker has repeatedly said "Unintimidated: A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge" isn't a campaign book, at nearly every stop he's asked about his political ambitions. It was no different Thursday, when the first person called on to ask Walker a question instead simply said she hopes he brings his governing style to Washington.
Walker faces re-election next year and hasn't said whether he will run for president in 2016. But he's been outspoken in his belief that whoever is in the White House next should be a current or former governor who would contrast with Washington politics.
Of course, fellow Republican and last year's vice presidential nominee U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan is also in the mix for 2016. Walker acknowledged that Thursday and praised Ryan, a close friend, as one of the few members of Congress he views as being as courageous and willing to take on the establishment.
Walker discussed those topics Thursday in response to questions from his co-author Marc Thiessen, a former speech writer for President George W. Bush.
"In Wisconsin and other battleground states like Iowa ... voters more than anything what leadership," Walker said.
Walker also argued against Republicans moving to the political middle in an attempt to attract independent voters.
"I think voters overwhelming, particularly in that persuadable middle, what they want is people they can respect," Walker said. To earn that respect, he said, politicians must stick true to their core beliefs."
Mary Burke, a former state Commerce Department secretary and Trek Bicycle Corp. executive, is the only announced Democratic candidate. State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, a Democrat, is also considering running.
Democrats have blasted Walker's book as nothing more than an attempt to further his 2016 political aspirations. They also point to things Walker left out, most notably his 2010 campaign pledge to create 250,000 private sector jobs over four years. He was only about a quarter of the way there after two years.
"If the presidency were awarded on the basis of avoiding accountability, twisting facts and blaming others for your own failures, Scott Walker would have a chance to run away with it," Wisconsin Democratic Party spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said.
Walker's book retells his signature political achievement, the passage of a 2011 law that effectively ended collective bargaining for most public workers. The resulting uproar attracted weeks of protests with crowds as large as 100,000 people and led to the recall election targeting Walker in 2012.
Walker became the first governor in U.S. history to defeat a recall election, further bolstering his national profile.