Scott Walker privately reassures ally: "I'm not going nativist; I'm still pro-immigration"

Is this news? Nothing he told Stephen Moore in this account is strictly inconsistent with what he said a few months ago about reducing legal immigration as president. Walker was careful at the time to say that was something he wanted to look at, to see if current legal immigration levels are depressing wages and should be adjusted accordingly. He didn’t commit to anything, although he got plenty of excited buzz among the conservative voters he’s wooing for daring to raise the possibility. Even if he had committed to new limits, anything short of a total moratorium could, I suppose, be considered “pro-immigration.” Maybe he was BSing Moore.

Or maybe he’s BSing us. Between his previous agonizing immigration flip-flop-flipping, his well-timed reversal on ethanol in Iowa, and his sudden rediscovery of social conservatism, I don’t really believe anything Walker says anymore. He’s the most conspicuous panderer among the field’s top candidates. If there’s anyone running who might be telling voters one thing in the name of getting elected while telling donors and establishment allies another, it’s him. So make of this what you will:

Stephen Moore, a conservative scholar at the Heritage Foundation who backs an immigration overhaul, called Mr. Walker’s embrace of a border security first approach “a lurch to the right and probably something very popular among Iowa conservative voters.”

Mr. Moore said he had become concerned about Mr. Walker’s stance in recent weeks, but was reassured after a phone call with the Wisconsin governor.

“He said, ‘I’m not going nativist; I’m pro-immigration,’” Mr. Moore recalled of the conversation…

Mr. Moore also said he was not convinced that Mr. Walker was quite the immigration hawk as he may appear now. Rather, he called the governor’s positioning “a work in progress.”

Walker’s spokesman told the Times that he’s “not for amnesty” and believes border security should happen before a path to legal status is granted. Why a guy who’s supposedly leery about more legal immigration would want a path to legalization for illegals who are already here is unclear to me, but there you go. I think the best you can say for him at this point is that, a la Obama and gay marriage circa 2008, it’s pretty clear what his true feelings are despite what he might be saying at any given moment. The man is, undoubtedly, a social conservative even if he did choose to strategically duck pronouncements on hot-button issues over the last few years in Wisconsin. Case in point: WaPo reported last week that he recently lost the support of a billionaire donor after getting into an argument with him about gay marriage. If Walker were intent on pandering in every situation, he would have told that donor that he’s secretly rooting for Justice Kennedy and then cashed the guy’s check. He didn’t. On the other hand, if it’s all too clear what Walker’s true social views are, it’s also clear how he really feels about immigration. He spent the last decade endorsing a path to citizenship; he once suggested, on camera, with a presidential run already on the horizon, that he thought illegal immigration could be solved not so much with more security but by making it easier for illegals to come here legally. Suddenly he reads a few Jeff Sessions speeches and he’s a border hawk — conveniently at the very moment that he’s competing for conservative votes in a GOP presidential primary? C’mon. President Walker will be no better than a Bush on immigration and deep down we all know it.

Exit question: Who’s pandering to donors harder about amnesty behind closed doors, Walker or Marco Rubio? Re-read this post before you answer.