At the time, Walker criticized Obama’s retreat from his “red line” on Syria. “I’m not necessarily encouraging that we draw red lines all over the place,” he said. “My sense is just, you shouldn’t point a gun at somebody if you’re not prepared to shoot.”

Walker also referenced Ronald Reagan’s firing of the illegally striking air traffic controllers early in his presidency. “When Ronald Reagan took that action against the air traffic controllers, that in my mind was the beginning of the end of the Cold War,” Walker told me. “And the reason was, from that point forward nobody doubted how serious Ronald Reagan would be as president. Our allies knew that they could trust him, that he was rock solid. Our adversaries knew not to mess with him. And even though he presided over an incredible buildup in our nation’s national defense, in our military, we had very few, very limited military engagements during his eight years as president.”

It’s clear how this could translate into a presidential campaign theme for Walker — like Reagan, he was willing to stand firm during his conflict with public sector unions, and as president, unlike Obama, he’d be able to project strength and proudly defend American values abroad.

This much was clear in his speech in Iowa. Though he didn’t focus much on foreign policy, Walker did say toward the end of his speech, “We need a president who doesn’t sit in Washington, D.C., when world leaders are standing together against terrorism in Paris. We need a president and leaders in Washington — we need leaders who understand that when freedom-loving people anywhere in the world are under attack anywhere else, they’re under attack against all of us who believe in freedom.”