Walker Stine Barn

Gov. Scott Walker speaks at a "Blue Jean Bash" fundraiser in West Des Moines, Iowa. PHOTO BY JESSIE OPOIEN

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker made his first public comments about his weeklong trip to Israel on Saturday, speaking to a crowd of more than 50 in a palatial barn in Iowa. 

He spoke of a helicopter ride he took on Monday with a retired Army general, who flew him around the entire country. The moment that stuck with him, he said, was hovering between Gaza and Jerusalem.

"The spot where we were hovering was literally where they believe David slayed Goliath," Walker said.

He said that moment gave him "incredible perspective," asking those in attendance to remember how they felt the day after the September 11 terrorist attacks. 

"That's how they feel every day," he said of the people of Israel.

Walker said that reinforced his belief that the United States must fight radical Islamic terrorists by taking the fight directly to them, rather than waiting for another attack on American soil.

The governor said the difference between the invasion of Iraq and taking military action today is in the quality of the intelligence. He reiterated that, with the information available today, he would not have authorized military action in Iraq.

"I think we have pretty clear information, not only about the Islamic State in Syria and Lybia, but we have pretty clear information about Iran's intentions and what they plan on doing," Walker told reporters. "I think it's why the president is making a huge mistake when it comes to moving forward at least with a tentative framework of a deal with Iran … We need to be prepared to take action. We wouldn't do it by ourselves, but it's something we want to do as part of a global coalition. I think we need to be prepared and not rule anything out, including boots on the ground."

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Walker was the headliner at a "Blue Jean Bash" fundraiser for Dallas County Recorder Chad Airhart. Also speaking were Republican U.S. Rep. Steve King and Iowa State Auditor Mary Mosiman. 

The event was at the Stine Barn in West Des Moines, a 16,000-square-foot structure with soaring ceilings, built with rustic logs and decorated with saddles and animal hides. 

Airhart is a member of the leadership team for Walker's fundraising committee, Our American Revival. He told the group he believes Walker is the candidate who can unite the Republican party and who cares about the people he represents.

Walker is set to speak Sunday night at the Republican Party of Iowa's Lincoln Day Dinner, along with a handful of other announced and unannounced presidential candidates.

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Jessie Opoien covers state government and politics for the Capital Times. She joined the Cap Times in 2013 and has also covered Madison life, race relations, culture and music. She has also covered education and politics for the Oshkosh Northwestern.