— -- Scott Walker made it official today, jumping into the race for the White House as the 15th declared Republican candidate.
“After a great deal of thought and a whole lot of prayer, we are so honored to have you join with us today as we announce that I am officially running to serve as your President of the United States of America,” the two-term Wisconsin governor told a packed house gathered at the Waukesha County Expo Center in Wisconsin for his formal announcement event -- the same place where he declared victory following a recall election in 2012 and sealed his rise to national acclaim as the only governor in U.S. history ever to withstand a recall.
Walker, 47, joins a crowded field or Republican competitors but already assumes frontrunner status in the important first-in-the-nation contest state of Iowa, where he has led every major poll since February following a breakout speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit in January.
The most recent Quinnipiac University poll showed Walker polling a solid 8 points ahead of his closest competitors with 18 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers favoring Walker.
Despite his strong performance in Iowa, Walker has yet to emerge as a front-runner nationally. A recent CNN/ORC poll showed Jeb Bush polling ahead of the GOP field nationally, with 19 percent of likely voters.
The son of a Baptist preacher, Walker spent his early childhood in Plainfield, Iowa. At age 10, his family moved to Delavan, Wisconsin, and he has lived in the state ever since. In college, Walker attended Marquette University in Milwaukee, where he made an unsuccessful bid to become student government president in his junior year and went on to drop out before completing his senior year to take a full-time job with the Red Cross.
If elected, Walker would be the first president since Harry Truman -- elected over 70 years ago -- not to have a college degree.
Walker would go on to make his first bid for public office at age 22, a race he lost. But three years later, in 1993, Walker won a seat in the Wisconsin state legislature and hasn't lost an election since. He went on to become the Milwaukee County Executive in 2003, and in 2010, was elected governor.
Walker's rise to political stardom began in 2011, when he faced off against thousands of pro-union protestors to pass legislation stripping most of the state’s public unions, including teachers, of most of their collective bargaining powers. After passing his controversial agenda, Walker faced a recall election in 2012 and won by a larger margin than his 2010 election.
He was re-elected governor in 2014 and has since taken additional steps to dismantle unions in Wisconsin, after he signed a law earlier this year making Wisconsin the 25th Right to Work State in the country, making union membership optional.
Walker’s formal announcement Monday night came after he first broke the news of his candidacy in a Facebook post early Monday morning.
“I'm in. I'm running for President of the United States because Americans deserve a leader who will fight and win for them," the two-term Wisconsin governor says in the Facebook post, which includes a video in which he argues that his track record as governor sets him apart from the rest of the Republican field as a proven leader who has succeeded in winning elections and taking on big policy battles.