In his first five months as a Wisconsinite, TBAF President John Pudner has delivered speeches throughout the state. Click on this video and enter password TBAF1776 to watch or read his first speech and see his PowerPoint photos from November 13, 2021 in Eau Claire. For a shorter speech, click on this audio or scroll down to read the transcript of a 6-minute speech on March 25, 2022, just a few miles from the State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin (see photos below).
The latter speech was delivered before one by former Wisconsin Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, but only the audio of John’s speech and his introduction were recorded. (Note that the volume is lower on the introduction due to microphone positioning.)
After a rousing intro by a member of the Dane County Republican Women, John started the 6-minute speech with a joke about a college-days “skeleton” in his closet, but then shifted to the decades-long battle for election integrity, the reforms that need to be made now, and the reasons attention should turn to political innovations like Final-Five voting once this year’s elections conclude.
Transcript of speech (lightly edited) to read, or listen via the link below.
[Introduction by group member]:
Our next speaker, John Pudner, has appeared on Fox News, OA news, Newsmax TV, and hundreds of other media outlets to talk about election integrity and rules of elections. He was a classmate of Scott Walker at Marquette University. (01:06)
Since then he’s lived in three different states, running legislative elections to help Republicans take control in all three states - Virginia, Georgia and then Alabama.
After being featured on Fox News for defeating the majority leader, Eric Cantor - RINO extraordinaire - despite being outspent $5 million to $200,000 in 2014, he started www.takebackaction.org. (1:34).
During his tenure as Executive Director from 2015 to 2021, Take Back Our Republic (former sister organization of www.takebackaction.org) compiled a perfect record of 5-0 in statewide referenda wins in five different states.
Pudner led a 2017 effort before the Federal Elections Commission, in which www.takebackaction.org defeated Facebook – otherwise known as “Face crook” (joking voice, laughter) – requiring the social media giant to disclose who was paying for political ads. (02:07)
On that platform, these important successes were a prime motivator in Pudner's transition to full-time President of www.takebackaction.org, where he has been able to focus his attention on political and grassroots lobbying efforts beginning in October. He moved back to Wisconsin because he believed the groups focused on election rules were much more important in Wisconsin than in Alabama, where Republicans now win almost all races easily. So please welcome John Pudner (02:43).
I always feel when speaking before Rebecca or Charity that I know how the lead-in bands for the Rolling Stones felt: people just want you to get off the stage. But thank you for giving me a few minutes today. I do have a flier (holding up this flier, which was distributed to all 46 attendees before the speech).
I'll just touch on a couple points briefly, but the Fair and Honest elections flier is ours.
I will make four quick points as a primer.
First, everyone has skeletons in their closet and I'm no exception. My wife voted against Scott Walker … for Marquette student body president in 1988. Unfortunately, 34 years later, she hasn't admitted her mistake to me - but I think she knows she did the wrong thing. (laughter)
The second point is, I am going to be casting my second vote in Wisconsin in two weeks in the local elections. My first vote was for Ronald Reagan in 1984, when I walked into an inner city Milwaukee voting place and was shocked they were letting me vote without any evidence of who I was, or if the envelope I had was really mine. [The election official] said, “Well you have an envelope with an address on it,” and I said, I said to the election worker, “I could have picked this up out of a trash can coming over here. What kind of proof is that?”
In two weeks, I will present my Wisconsin driver's license (holding up license) and registration to vote. I say that because this was my battle in all three states we took over [when running political campaigns before starting www.takebackaction.org]: [enforcing] voter ID, and watching to stop the tactics for cheating. Luckily, I learned from a great mentor at Marquette University, George Reedy, Lyndon Johnson's press secretary, who taught me every way that people had been cheating in elections for 50 years. So when people tell you Donald Trump is the first one to say there was cheating in an election … I had two years of mentoring on how you stop cheating. Including how you had to follow vans around [to see if and when] people were getting out of a vote to vote for a second time [at a second location].
Those are the kind of steps we took to take back Virginia and then Georgia and then Alabama, which had never been under Republican control. Now that you can [put ballots in] dropboxes, you don't even need to pick up the bodies to take them around [to submit votes]. So these are the kind of election integrity issues that we're going to focus on, and they've been key to winning. When we formed www.takebackaction.org, it was because there's no group on the right who was focused on the rules of the game. And I don't say “game” to take it lightly, but just to make an analogy. Lots of groups on the left have been figuring out the rules of how elections are run for years.
We needed someone on the right to [focus on the rules of elections], just to get fair and honest elections. We're not trying to skew things in our favor. We just want the majority to win. So that's our focus.
Third item: I do just ask groups to consider using the word “rigged election” instead of “stolen.” President Trump's lawyers have tried to get him to do this, and he won't, but he was President so he can do what he wants (with laugh).
I believe we have two problems when we say the word “stolen” instead of “rigged.” I believe “rigged” conveys everything which center/right voters agree happened if they are honest. Rules were changed to affect the 2020 election. You can't vote in the park before the legislature says you can vote, or other illicit things that break election laws.
I found in polling and focus groups that those same center/right voters react negatively to the word “stolen.” It may just be a linguistic thing.
The second problem with the word “stolen” is that some really gung-ho Republicans stay home when they hear “stolen” because they start thinking, “Machines are flipping my vote, so why do I vote?”
This is why we lost the  Georgia Senate races. I talked to friends coordinating a million door knocks there, and at every fifth door someone said, “Why should I vote? They're stealing it anyway.” So I encourage you to talk about the election being rigged, and you will see that throughout our literature. I believe that makes all the same points on the rules that have to be changed.
Fourth, I know your focus this year is all about winning elections. That's why I moved to Wisconsin [with laugh]. I was arguing with my wife to move back here for years, but we're finally back; this is a battleground, and I know there is nothing more important to you than winning back the governor's mansion, and the US Senate could come down to Wisconsin, if you really look at the map of the country, at all kinds of other races. But obviously your focus will start with the local races that were mentioned. Local races are an area where liberals were so far ahead of conservatives in realizing the decisions made by school boards and other local governments.
I've talked to 140 Republican leaders in the last few weeks, including a number of County GOP Chairs, and I know there are some other issues like party endorsements, which I believe are important because I believe that it is good for workers to have a voice.
You'll see in the literature that we believe there is a way to couple endorsements in a win-win [for both sides of the party endorsement debate] in future elections with Final-Five, where you get rid of the incentive for liberals to fund a pro-life candidate or a self-proclaimed patriot candidate or libertarian to take two and three and four percent from the Republican nominee to allow a Democrat to win even in a district where a majority oppose them.
That is a priority among neat ideas for next year. But obviously this year, the focus is all on enforcing the rules, getting them in place and obviously doing what you're doing like coming to meetings like this to get great candidates elected in two weeks and in November.
Thank you, and it is just great to be a Wisconsinite again.
For more on TBORA's efforts on Final Five, please click here.