MADISON, Wis. — Ousted Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Friday that he would be interested in running for public office again, maybe even for governor in four years.
Walker spoke to The Associated Press from the vacated governor's mansion as he prepares to be replaced Monday by Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers. Walker, a presidential candidate in the 2016 race, served two terms as governor before Evers narrowly defeated him in November.
Walker's immediate plans are to hit the speaking circuit , advocating for conservative proposals and talking up the conservative agenda he enacted in Wisconsin. Walker said he also sees himself as President Donald Trump's chief advocate in Wisconsin — comments that came just days after fellow Republican Mitt Romney, also a former governor, penned a scathing op-ed questioning Trump's character.
Walker, who said he hadn't read Romney's column, defended Trump's record and said no other Republican could defeat him in the presidential primary in 2020.
"Donald Trump, I believe, will be the nominee," Walker said.
When Walker dropped out of the presidential race in 2015, he urged others to join him and unite to defeat Trump. He later endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz before finally backing Trump after his nomination was all but certain.
Walker acknowledged there are a "few things" he wishes Trump had done differently, pointing to "tweets and words" the president has used. But he praised Trump's judicial appointments, his signing of the new tax law and his trade agreements that Walker said have helped Wisconsin's dairy and manufacturing industries.
"I'm old school," Walker said. "I believe that actions speak louder than words. Are there tweets or words occasionally that I wish he would do differently? Absolutely. I think even some of his most ardent supporters would say that."
Walker said his wife, Tonette, has encouraged him not to rule out another run for office — but he did foreclose any longshot challenge to Trump in 2020.
"No, no, no," he said. "As much as my wife encouraged me to say, 'someday run,' that would not be a position she would encourage me to run for right now."
Walker, who has been in elected office for 25 years, is planning to hit the national speaking circuit to advocate for taking power out of the federal government and giving it to the states. But the 51-year-old said he has to decide whether elected office, including in the U.S. Senate, might be the best place for him to make the argument.
"It may be, in the end, I'm better equipped to make those changes become a reality not in elected office," he said. "But I certainly wouldn't rule it out."
As for a future run at the governor's office, Walker said: "If Republicans are going to make the case, it's probably worth, at least for governor, having a new face, a new name on the ballot for that. But you never rule anything out."
Evers' spokeswoman Carrie Lynch declined to comment. But Wisconsin Democratic Party spokeswoman Courtney Beyer said Walker "clearly doesn't know what to do with himself now that he's out of a job." She said voters who elected Evers were "eager to turn the page on the politics of the past and ... Scott Walker would be wise to listen."
Walker is considering running to replace Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson in 2022. Johnson, who is in his second term, has said he won't run for a third time. Walker said he was looking at the experience of other former governors who have gone on to serve in the Senate.
"They'll tell you often they're frustrated," Walker said. "To me, I wouldn't want to go somewhere and be frustrated just for the sake of a title. I want to be able to get something done."