MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker downplayed his interest in running for president during an editorial board meeting broadcast live Tuesday, three weeks before voters will decide whether to re-elect him to the office he's already won twice since 2010.
In the expansive interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Walker said "anybody who wants to be president has to be a little crazy, so I don't know if I want to be classified as crazy."
"I want to be a governor," Walker said. "I'm 46. God willing if some day that was even something to consider, that's a long ways off."
Walker is being challenged for re-election by Democrat Mary Burke, a former executive at Trek Bicycles and state Commerce Department secretary. The race has drawn national attention both because polls have shown it's close and because Walker is widely considered to be in the mix for a 2016 presidential run.
But Walker tried to tamp down any possible presidential aspirations on Tuesday, saying he had no plans to travel to Iowa — sight of the first presidential caucus votes — in the coming weeks.
"I've had to run three times in four years so it's pretty crazy to not want to continue to be governor," said Walker, who was elected governor in 2010 and won a recall in 2012 in an election spurred by anger over his law targeting public workers' collective bargaining rights. "And I think we're just getting humming. I think things are just picking up. I'd like to see this out."
He also strongly suggested he would not run for president if fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin got in the race. Ryan was the vice presidential nominee in 2012. Walker repeated the line he's used frequently, saying if there were a Ryan fan club he would be the leader of it.
But would Walker run if Ryan were in the race?
"It would be hard to do if you're the president of the fan club," Walker said with a laugh.
Walker's signature accomplishment the law that essentially eliminated collective bargaining for most public workers. The ensuing fight catapulted Walker on the national stage, and he signed the law despite massive protests.
Walker said Tuesday that he would not be pushing to expand that law to exempt police and firefighters, or advocate making Wisconsin a right-to-work state, where even private-sector workers could not be required to join a union or pay dues as a condition of employment.
"I just think that opens a whole other can of worms," Walker said, adding that more upheaval would not be productive for the state.
Burke, in a conference call with reporters, argued that Walker has failed the state by cutting spending on education, not supporting an increase in the minimum wage, creating only 102,000 private-sector jobs while promising 250,000 and pushing to expand private-school vouchers statewide.
"We need a new direction," Burke said.
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