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Scott Walker gives shout-out to Colorado Springs during Denver speech

June 28, 2015 Updated: June 28, 2015 at 4:16 am
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photo - GOP potential presidential candidate Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is expected to announce his candidacy within the next month, talks to members of the media after his speech at the Road to Majority 2015 convention, Saturday June 20, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
GOP potential presidential candidate Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is expected to announce his candidacy within the next month, talks to members of the media after his speech at the Road to Majority 2015 convention, Saturday June 20, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) 

DENVER - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, an all-but-announced 2016 presidential candidate, shouted out to his birthplace - Colorado Springs - Saturday night before thousands at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver.

Walker, who headlined the three-day event, said his father was a preacher at a Baptist church in downtown Colorado Springs.

Senate President Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, introduced Walker, touting Walker's ability to beat back an effort to recall him from office after sweeping employment reforms that some considered anti-union became law.

"They were trying to intimidate us. I'm proud to tell you tonight that we were not intimidated. We took the power out of the hands of big special interests," Walker said.

He said thousands of protesters arrived at his home, and that was the origination of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

"My apologies for starting that," he said.

"Our reforms not only changed unions in our state, we were able to change our economic status," he said, adding that unemployment levels dropped, labor participation rates rose and the economy recovered.

Walker was well received by all but one man in the crowd who interrupted his response to a question by yelling out in the darkened theater. The man asked Walker to talk about immigration and then continued yelling until police removed him.

Walker's speech capped a day of speeches in which several GOP presidential candidates ticked through their plans.

Earlier in the day, the even-tempered Ben Carson, with his subtle jokes and stabs, methodically laid out his complex plans for such things as overcoming the unfunded liability for Medicaid and Social Security and fixing the Affordable Care Act.

"The longer you allow it to grow, the deeper the pain, the more difficult it will be to fix it," Carson said, noting that France had to cut benefits and raise the retirement age to bail out its benefits.

Carson, a retired renowned neurosurgeon whose rise from poverty story is the subject of a Cuba Gooding Jr. movie, has never held political office and is considered a long shot for the presidency.

"People say to me, 'You're a doctor and you've had an illustrious career, why would you sully that with politics?' and I asked myself the same thing, too," Carson said. He proposed a hiatus of corporate taxes to allow trillions in offshore tax-sheltered dollars to come home with the stipulation that 10 percent must be used for job creation.

When it comes to Obamacare, Carson envisions using Health Savings Accounts to the level that ordinary people can self-insure and then would only need to purchase insurance for catastrophes.

Carson won the straw poll in 2014 at the Western Conservative Summit, and some said it was likely he would win again. Attendees of the conference were asked for their presidential pick, and the results will be tallied Sunday.

Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of the technology giant Hewlett-Packard, was among the most-anticipated speakers Saturday, and she did not disappoint.

Carole Cruson, 72, of Golden came last year and returned to see Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator who is giving the White House a second shot, on Friday night.

She's particularly excited about Carly Fiorina, however.

"I just think she's the most well-spoken person I've heard," Cruson said. "She's an articulate woman with great poise."

Even Bob Beauprez, Colorado's retired congressman who ran for governor in 2014, was impressed with Fiorina, calling her a great talent.

Fiorina hit foreign policy hard in her short speech at the Denver Convention Center.

"The truth is I know more world leaders on the stage today than anyone else running with the possible exception of Hillary Clinton; only I didn't do photo ops," Fiorina said. "I had a private meeting with Vladimir Putin, a private meeting with Bibi Netanyahu, a private meeting with the king of Jordan, a private meeting with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, South Africa, China, Brazil."

Fiorina said that on her first day in office she'd call Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu and show the world what a true ally the United States is. The crowd erupted.

Addressing her weak point, Fiorina said she did what she needed to do at HP and is proud of her record even though it included layoffs.

She said sometimes you have to make tough decisions to live to fight another day.

Longtime Texas Gov. Rick Perry brought on his Southern drawl and charm for his animated stump speech Saturday afternoon. He ran down how the Texas economy flourished under his leadership.

"We believe that if you're free from overtaxation and overregulation, if you're free from overlitigation, if you've got accountable public schools in place where you've got a skilled workforce, there is nothing you can't accomplish," Perry said.

Perry ran in 2012 and lost in his primary pursuit. When asked why he was more animated Saturday than he had been four years ago, Perry said it's good to be healthy.

"There are already 13 or 14 in, so who knows how many are going to get into this thing. But any of you who are thinking about it, don't have major back surgery," Perry joked.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee joked that he plans to raise more money this time around than in 2008 when he failed to win the GOP bid.

He laid out his plan to reform the tax plan, get rid of the IRS and move to a "fair tax." Instead of taxing income, the nation should tax at the moment of consumption, he said.

"It no longer punishes people for their productivity and rewards them for their irresponsibility," Huckabee said. "I was raised with the idea that we ought to reward people who work, who save, who invest and who leave something behind for the next generation . "

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