By SCOTT BAUER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Monday that he won’t run for president again as a sitting governor and that he intends to use his prime-time speech at the Republican National Convention this week to argue that “America deserves better” than Hillary Clinton.
“The fears and concerns that people have about Hillary Clinton, I think, are going to be the most compelling things that unite Republicans,” Walker told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Cleveland, where he is attending the convention.
Walker said that even though he’s meeting in Cleveland with delegates from early presidential voting states including Iowa, this doesn’t indicate that he’s preparing for a run in 2020.
“My likely next election is re-election,” said Walker, who is up for a third term in 2018. “As I’ve said before, If I was re-elected as governor, I’ve made it clear I would not run for anything else. I would fill that term out.”
Walker said he learned from his ill-fated run for president last year that “you can’t run for an office like that while still being governor, unless you’re willing to concede being governor, which I wasn’t. You’re just not able to be the candidate you need to be.”
“If I run again in 2018, it would be to serve a full term and not to run for another office,” Walker said.
Walker made similar comments before his re-election in 2014, saying he intended to serve a full term. But he launched a run for president shortly after his re-election win. Ever since he dropped out about a year ago, his approval ratings in Wisconsin have been around 40 percent, the lowest of his 5½ years in office.
Walker has been a reluctant supporter of presumptive nominee Donald Trump. When he left the presidential primary race in September, Walker urged others to join him to make it easier to beat Trump. And Walker backed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in Wisconsin’s primary, which Cruz won.
Walker, like fellow Wisconsinite House Speaker Paul Ryan, has also criticized comments Trump has made during the campaign. Walker threatened to rescind his endorsement of Trump following comments he made questioning the fairness of a judge because of his Mexican heritage.
But Walker said Monday that his concerns with Trump have eased over time.
“Obviously I’m thrilled with Mike Pence,” Walker said of the Indiana governor whom Trump picked last week as his vice presidential running mate. “The fact that Donald Trump put him on the ticket with him suggests to me that, beyond just the politics of winning the election, Trump is serious about governing.”
Walker said he plans to use his convention speech on Wednesday night to talk about what Republicans stand for and to make the point that a vote for anyone other than Trump is a vote for Clinton.
“The overall theme is going to be America deserves better” than Clinton, Walker said.
He noted that in August, during a GOP primary debate, Walker said that he believed anyone on the stage, including Trump, would make a better president than Clinton. Walker said he still believes than now, despite his earlier criticism of Trump.
Republicans “want someone who is going to shake things up,” Walker said. “I think that’s precisely the appeal that Donald Trump brings to the table.”