Scott Walker: GOP needs an “optimistic” message for 2014

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the Republican governor who survived a recall election in 2012, said Republicans “need to lay out an optimistic message to regain the United States Senate” and win back the White House after that.

Walker touted Republican governors across the country for their work on improving the economy, lowering the unemployment rate and fixing schools. His new book, “Unintimidated: A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge,” focuses on the difference between the GOP inside and outside the Beltway.

“We talk about things that are relevant and optimistic. We talk about fixing schools, balancing budgets, getting the economy going again. We don't talk about sequesters and fiscal cliffs and debt ceilings. Those are things a handful of people in politics pay attention to. What Americans want are people with the courage to stand up and fight for them. Not fight against each other, fight for the hardworking taxpayers,” he said.

Walker says his own focus on the economy has been “obsessive” and is the reason he was elected in 2010 and reaffirmed in 2012 – not necessarily because of his social values, including a “proudly pro-life” stance.

Reflecting on the divided Congress in Washington, he rejected the conventional wisdom that divided government is good for the people.

“I think most of us across this country have seen divided government just leads to more fighting and bickering and gridlock," Walker said. "In Wisconsin and many others, the battleground states in the Midwest, in 2010, we focused on our economic and fiscal crises, laid out a clear plan, and then voters in my state and many others in my surrounding states gave Republicans not only the governor's office but the majorities in the state assembly and the state senate or similar measures in the legislature."

While divided government doesn’t have to be a bad thing, he said, people just “want to hear a clear plan of how they'll move forward.”

 Walker’s victory in the 2012 recall election has thrust him into the spotlight as a potential presidential candidate in 2016 – talk he is certainly not waving off.

“Well, I mean, it's flattering. And they're not talking about it because of some great speech I've given. They talk about it because we've taken real action and real reforms,” Walker said, noting there is similar speculation around other Republican governors.

All Walker would say, though, is that he plans to announce that he’s running for reelection as governor in 2014.

“We'll see what happens after that. Ultimately, my decision will be made not just by myself and my family. But I've got to look at my state. My state's gone through a lot the last couple years. And there's a part of me that would just like to stay focused on helping the state move forward. So we'll see what the future holds. But for now, I'm focused on being governor,” he said.

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    Rebecca Kaplan covers the 2012 presidential campaign for CBS News and National Journal.