Gov. Scott Walker stopped at Exodus Machines in Superior on Wednesday during the final leg of his re-election bid tour.
"I am more optimistic about the state than at any time in my life," he told the crowd, asking them for another four years in office.
Walker stressed workforce gains and tax savings in the state during his seven years of leadership.
"From one end of the state to the other, crisscrossing the state, we're seeing exciting things happening," Walker said. "We're moving Wisconsin forward. It's not just about jobs, it's not just about businesses."
He pointed out that tuition has been frozen at University of Wisconsin campuses and that more dollars were invested into K-12 education in the current budget.
"I'm pleased to say not for one year, not for two years, but for six years in a row we've frozen tuition at all of our University of Wisconsin campuses for undergraduates here in this great state," Walker said.
He promised to drug test welfare recipients.
"Public assistance should be more like a trampoline and less like a hammock," the governor said.
And Walker said the state needs to double-down on the fight against the opioid crisis and illegal drug abuse.
The governor was introduced by Exodus CEO Kevin Boreen. The Superior business, which engineers, manufactures, sells and services attachments for the recycling and demolition industry, employs 75.
The state was one of the first to the table to say "how can we help," Boreen said. Together with the city of Superior, Douglas County and other agencies, they put together a financing package that helped Exodus build its facility.
"That was in a large part because of the pro-business attitude of Gov. Scott Walker, so thank you for that," Boreen said.
John Johnson Jr. of Lake Nebagamon attended the rally with his entire family — wife Shelley and their children, John Michael, 13, and Abby, 10.
"I brought them as a learning experience and to meet the governor," said Johnson. "And I'm a supporter of Scott Walker. I think he's not perfect, but he's really doing his best."
Walker shook hands with the youngsters.
"Basically, he just came and told me he's doing it for them, he was there for them, for their future," said Shelley Johnson. "They're the reason he's doing the things he's doing, to make the place for them ... a better place for them in the future. It was very cool, actually."
Bruce Carlson of Superior said he likes to keep his finger on the pulse of state politics. If it's not broken, he said, there's no need to fix it.
"The fact that he (Walker) got re-elected at a time when there was a recall says something about his record," Carlson said.
Bruce and Sue Vrooman of Superior, members of the Republican Party of Douglas County, said they appreciate the jobs the state has gained under Walker's leadership and the fact that taxes have gone down.
As a Gold Star family — their son, Army Staff Sgt. Jeremy Vrooman, was killed serving in Iraq in 2008 — they said Walker calls them by name every time they meet, even if it's been years.
"He's a sweetheart," said Sue Vrooman. "He's just a wonderful person."
As he wrapped up his speech, Walker asked the crowd for their help with the upcoming election, which he predicted will not be easy. He asked for grassroots, neighbor-to-neighbor efforts to counter expected attacks and funding from out-of-state special interest groups.