Today on CNN’s State of the Union, Alex & Matt Walker, sons of 2016 GOP Hopeful, Governor Scott Walker (R-WI), joined chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash. This is the first time they have ever done an interview together.
For more information, see http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/. Also, video & text highlights and a transcript of the discussion are below.
MANDATORY CREDIT: CNN’s “State of the Union”
Dana Bash spoke exclusively with Matt and Alex Walker, sons of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, on the cusp of their dad's presidential run announcement.
Matt and Alex Walker on disagreeing with his dad over seam-sex marriage: “[MATT] Yeah, we talked to him. He just explained his position, and that was It [ALEX]: Matt and I aren't– necessarily changing his stances on any issues. …We respect his opinion on things”
Matt Walker on the death threats during the 2011 Union Fight: “We got a lot of those threats, we were able to just keep calm, work through them…in the end we got closer.”
Alex and Matt Walker on their dad’s embarrassing moments: “[ALEX]: Yeah. He likes to sing-karaoke…And embarrass Matt and I, every chance he can get. …[MATT]: The big one is that he wears jean shorts sometimes. That's a little rough. So fashion choices need to be updated.”
THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN GUEST ANCHOR (voice-over): Scott Walker's sons are a staple of his stump speech.
GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: My reasons are Matt and Alex. Our sons, Matt and Alex. My reasons are Matt and Alex.
BASH: So much that we were told some in Wisconsin made up a Matt and Alex drinking game.
BASH (on camera): Every time he says Matt and Alex you take a drink?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't know that. That's pretty funny.
BASH (voice-over): Now it's the 21 and almost 20-year-old's turn to talk about their dad on the eve of his presidential announcement.
ALEX WALKER, SON OF SCOTT WALKER: We've seen his leadership. We've seen that he can get things done.
BASH: What Walker did as governor in 2011 shot him to national prominence, trying to cut state spending by curbing collective bargaining and breaking state unions. It made him a hero to the right and a devil to the left. Passions ran so high through a failed attempt to recall Walker, his then high school-aged sons say they faced death threats.
MATT WALKER, SON OF SCOTT WALKER: We got a lot of those threats. We were able to just keep calm, work through them. In the end, we got closer.
BASH: But their mother Tinette also gave her husband tough love, telling him he wasn't communicating well.
ALEX WALKER: She tried to ask our dad to explain to people more what the reforms did and what he was doing.
BASH: Walker's wife is 12 years his senior. How they met, at this bar, says a lot about his personality - self-assured and at times a bit awkward.
ALEX WALKER: He wrote on a napkin, forgive me for being rude but I have to work early in the morning. If you'd like to go out sometime, give me a call. And he put his number down and his name. And he slipped her the napkin on the way out.
BASH: The Walkers are close but even they disagree on some politics. Matt and Alex support same-sex marriage and complained to their mother when their dad called last month’s Supreme Court decision legalizing it a grave mistake.
BASH (on camera): She said to you all, when you complained, go talk to your father about it. Did you?
MATT WALKER: We talked to him. He just explained his position and that was it.
ALEX WALKER: Matt and I aren't necessarily changing his stances on any issues.
BASH: Do you try?
ALEX WALKER: No. We respect his opinion on things.
BASH (voice-over): Walker's intense political ambition began as a teenager. He lost a bid to be student body president at Marquette University and dropped out before graduating.
MATT WALKER: He got an offer of a job before he even left. Why would he not take it?
BASH (on camera): What would he say if either of you said, you know what, Dad, I'm done. I'm not finishing college.
ALEX WALKER: He might be all right if we had a good reason. Our mom, on the other hand, would not allow that.
BASH (voice-over): Walker was elected to the state assembly at age 25. He has been a career politician since but not always a political star.
CHARLIE SYKES, CONSERVATIVE RADIO HOST: Scott is one of those guys who does not fill up the room. He is not going to blow you away. He comes off as very intense, very thoughtful.
BASH: Charlie Sykes is a Wisconsin conservative radio host where Walker was a regular guest as he moved up through elected office.
SYKES: He is his own No. 1 strategist; he is his own No.1 spokesman. He is his own media person.
BASH (on camera): Some would say that's micromanaging.
SYKES: Oh, I think everybody would say it's micromanaging.
BASH (voice-over): And he is even-keeled, apparently no temper. Rebecca Kleefisch is Walker’s lieutenant governor.
BASH (on camera): Have you ever seen that at all?
GOV. REBECCA KLEEFISCH: Nope.
BASH: Not even during the intense recall moments?
KLEEFISCH: I was floored by his calm. You know that he is a man of deep faith.
BASH (voice-over): Walker is a preacher's son, faith guides him spiritually and helps politically with Christian conservative voters he needs, especially in Iowa.
KLEEFISCH: We don't go into meetings and quote scripture. A lot of people assume of evangelicals, right? But you can see how he cares deeply.
BASH: Before Kleefisch ran for office she was a reporter who covered Walker.
KLEEFISCH: When we're in a public meeting versus when the door is closed, same guy. I know that's weird.
BASH: For his sons that typical guy also means dorky dad.
ALEX WALKER: A little embarrassing sometimes. He likes to sing karaoke definitely and embarrass Matt and I.
BASH: You're not the only ones.
KLEEFISCH: He has a tendency to sing. He sang "Happy".
BASH (on camera): How did that go?
KLEEFISCH: Politics is really good for him.
BASH (voice-over): But worse for his sons are his clothes.
MATT WALKER: The big one is that he wears jean shorts sometimes. That's a little rough. So fashion choices need to be updated.
BASH: Dressing like a pirate when they were kids, not so bad.
ALEX WALKER: That's how he's always been. And he’s shown the example for us.