Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: What Shopping at Kohl’s Has to Do With His White House Hopes

Crowd cheers Scott Walker at Freedom Summit.

ByABC News
January 24, 2015, 4:06 PM

— -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the first big 2016 name to take the stage at the Iowa Freedom Summit, got a rousing reception from the conservative activists gathered and promised to "be back many more times in the future."

"I'm hopeful to work together with you to help us provide that type of leadership that is new and fresh and bold and aggressive that has been proven, that commonsense conservative reforms from outside Washington, D.C., can help and with your help I have no doubt we can move this country forward, we can have our own American revival," he said in what sounded like a debut of a presidential campaign speech.

It was one of his first big national addresses and Walker stressed his governing credentials and how -- due to a recall -- he's been successfully re-elected "three times in the last four years," something he will undoubtedly repeat on the campaign trail, if he runs.

"Three times mind you in a state that hasn't gone Republican for president since I was in high school more than 30 years ago, how about that," Walker said to applause. "I think that sends a powerful message to Republicans in Washington and around the country, if you are not afraid to go big and bold you can actually get results."

While walking back and forth across the stage, Walker also portrayed himself as a fighter, describing in detail how protesters during the 2012 re-call sent him and his family "assassination" threats.

"Someone literally sent me a threat that said they were going to gut my wife like a deer," Walker said, noting he didn't back down, but the threats reminded him "how important it was to stand up for the people of my state."

He ticked off his conservative successes in his state, saying he's "taken on aggressive agenda" including cutting taxes and reducing spending, merit education hiring, anti-abortion rights measures, voter ID laws, and other victories for the approving crowd.

He stressed that in Wisconsin -- as opposed to Washington -- he is focused on how to "give more money back to the people who earned it."

Describing in detail how thrifty he and his wife are, he told the crowd that next month he will celebrate his 23rd wedding anniversary with his wife Tonette, but when they were first married he "made a critical mistake."

"I went to a Kohl's department store and I bought something for the price it was marked at," Walker said. "My wife said to me, 'You can never go back there ever again until you learn how to shop at Kohl's.'"

He then detailed his frugal shopping skills in order to get so much money off the price of a shirt "the next thing you know they are paying me to buy that shirt!"

The crowd cheered his budget-cutting ways, and although he didn't mention any of his possible Republican rivals by name, he set up quite a contrast with at least two of his wealthy possible opponents, Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney.

He said "hard work" is not just a "buzzword" for him, describing his background and noting his humble beginnings, which included part of his childhood spent in the first caucus state of Iowa.

"In America, the opportunity is equal for each and every one of us, but in America the ultimate outcome is up to each and every one of us individually," he said, towards the end of his speech, which he finished to a rousing standing ovation from the crowd.