I told you yesterday that this spin was coming eventually. What I didn’t realize was that “eventually” would mean “tomorrow.”
Kirsten Kukowski, the communications director for Walker’s 527 political committee, suggested to TPM on Thursday that President Barack Obama’s moves on immigration reform are what’s caused Walker’s shift in rhetoric.
“President Obama’s lack of leadership has completely changed how our immigration system now needs to be approached and Governor Walker has seen his fellow governors have to deal with the collateral damage of Obama’s decisions and lack of leadership,” Kukowski said in an email to TPM.
Walker believes, according to Kukowski, “First, Obama’s executive action should be repealed” and that “we need absolute security at our borders and then we can address fixing our legal immigration system and deal with those here illegally but amnesty is not the answer.”
Can’t go wrong in a Republican primary blaming Obama, even if it’s not clear here what, precisely, O did to convince Walker that border security needs to come before legalization. November’s mega-amnesty hasn’t been implemented yet; the 2012 DACA amnesty has, but that dealt with DREAMers and it’s a safe bet that neither Walker himself nor any of his rivals will oppose legalization for a class like that. Rhetorically, Obama’s no more expansive on this subject than George W. Bush was (although Dubya, of course, never made a move as bold or dubious as legalization via executive order) and Walker was apparently pro-amnesty for the duration of Bush’s presidency. Maybe Kukowski’s referring generically to the border crisis last year? Or maybe she’s referring to the Obama administration’s slow shift away from deportations, leading to many thousands of illegals with criminal records landing back on American streets?
Or maybe I’m parsing this statement way, way too closely. The point here is simply to reassure conservatives that Walker’s seen the light on immigration, his only major potential liability among righties, without dwelling on the subject much. I don’t buy it for a minute but I’m happy to pretend otherwise in the name of boosting an otherwise impressive candidate who may well be our best chance at ending up with Not Bush as nominee. Welcome to the border-hawk camp, Governor! We’ll enjoy having you with us until Election Day 2016 and not a second longer.
One bit of free parting advice to Team Walker, though, via TPM: Let’s stop claiming, as the man himself apparently did on Fox News this past Monday, that he never told an editorial board in Wisconsin in 2013 that he supported a path to citizenship. I’ve posted that video several times; the transcript of the exchange, posted by the reporter who asked him about it at that meeting, is right here. It’s much shrewder to say “I’ve changed my mind” than “I never said what I said.” Especially when it’s on tape.