LAS VEGAS — Gov. Scott Walker, asked to clarify his description of the minimum wage as a “lame idea,” said Tuesday that he wouldn’t support changing the federal minimum wage if elected president.
Walker’s latest remarks to reporters came just after a presidential campaign event at a Harley Davidson dealership in Las Vegas.
“I’m not talking about changing it,” Walker said of the federal minimum wage, which currently is $7.25 an hour.
“I want to talk about ways that help people get careers that pay two and three times the minimum wage,” Walker continued. “You do it through education. You do it through worker training and developing skills.”
Walker weighed in on the issue Monday, minutes after announcing his presidential candidacy. Fox News’ Sean Hannity asked Walker if he could carry Wisconsin, Michigan and other Midwest states that have eluded Republican presidential nominees.
Walker responded that he supports job-training and other measures to help grow jobs in those states.
“The left claims they’re for American workers, and they’ve got lame ideas, things like minimum wage,” Walker said. “Instead of focusing on that, we need to talk about how to get people the skills and education and qualifications they need to take on careers that pay far more than that.”
Walker said he “could do well” in those states. He stopped short of outright promising to carry Wisconsin, where his approval ratings have fallen recently as he traveled the nation courting campaign donors and GOP voters in primary states.
Walker said Americans are looking for someone to stand up for workers. Democrats said he clearly isn’t a friend of working people. The governor and fellow Republicans have virtually eliminated union rights for most public sector workers, enacted a right-to-work law and removed the state prevailing wage statute.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and leading Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton reacted to Walker’s announcement with harsh words. Clinton said Walker was an impediment to workers’ rights, while Trumka called him “a national disgrace.”
Walker told Hannity that Democrats aren’t happy because he took power from unions. He said his record of winning gubernatorial elections in a swing state and winning the Milwaukee County executive post shows he has strong appeal.