Quotes of the day

As Europe grapples with the mass migration of more than 300,000 refugees fleeing war in Syria, Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker won’t say whether the United States should open its doors to absorb more of the migrants.

Walker’s reason for not taking a stand is that he says it would be hypothetical for him to do so since he is not currently the president.

“I’m not president today and I can’t be president today,” the Republican presidential candidate and Wisconsin governor said when asked by ABC News during a press gaggle on Monday what he would to address the current refugee crisis if he were president currently. “Everybody wants to talk about hypotheticals; there is no such thing as a hypothetical.”


Just days after declining to say whether the U.S. should take in more Syrian refugees, Governor Scott Walker is offering a more definitive answer

Asked about his response Wednesday in Eau Claire, the Republican presidential hopeful offered a much clearer position on the issue. He told reporters “the answer is no, we shouldn’t be taking on any more Syrian refugees right now.”…

The governor called the refugee issue a “symptom” of a bigger problem – namely the influence of ISIS and President Barack Obama’s approaching to dealing with the Islamic group. “They drew a line in the sand, that opened the door to the problems in Syria,” he argued. “They withdrew out of Iraq too early, therefore opening the ground for ISIS to claim more territory.”


Wearing washed-out Levis, fingerless leather gloves and a Harley-Davidson T-shirt, Republican White House hopeful Scott Walker spent Labor Day weekend touring New Hampshire’s 10 counties on a motorcycle trying to convincing voters that he is just like them.

The Wisconsin governor has work to do in the early-voting state. He’s down to seventh place in the RealClearPolitics polling average of surveys in the state, garnering about 5 percent. That’s down from more than 20 percent in late April, when he was leading the field in the state.

So he spent the weekend trying to piece back together a coalition of socially conservative voters in remote towns in the state’s more rural areas, such as at the general store in Washington, New Hampshire, where cell service is nearly non-existent…

“I love to shoot clay, sporting clay,” he told reporters. “And I told my kids, instead of aiming, when they were young, at the clay, you shoot at where the clay’s headed. You guys are aiming at the clay right now. We’re going to be out with primary voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, and we’re aiming where they’re headed.”


“Just like we saw in this ride today — we went up and down hills and around mountains and around corners — in the end, there are going to be ups and downs in a campaign,” Walker said at the Pink Cadillac diner here in Rochester on Monday afternoon…

“He was my number one; I was very excited when he entered the race,” said Nancy Barrett, 46, a New Hampshire mother of two who met Walker over a homestyle breakfast in Twin Mountain on Monday. “But he’s been losing me a little when some of the other candidates have come out a lot stronger on illegal immigration and are challenging some of the establishment policies.”…

A reporter from Wisconsin asked Walker whether his lack of clear stances on recent issues is hurting him in the polls as voters opt for Trump’s clarity. The governor — who is typically unflappable on the campaign trail — cut the reporter off.

“I don’t think the issue is that at all. I think you’re totally misreading,” he said sharply. “You guys in the media might be talking amongst yourselves and thinking that’s it, but that’s not what I hear from voters out there.”


Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, who has previously declined to have stances on birthright citizenship, evolution, whether being gay is a choice, and whether he would meet with Black Lives Matter organizers, discussed the philosophical underpinnings of his political apathy when announcing that he has no opinion on the migrant crisis in Europe…

Walker has avoided answering questions with similar evasions before — although “I’m not president, so I can’t answer that” is the closest he has come to finding the secret cheat code that will allow him to advance to the convention without having to provide much insight into how he might deal with the types of difficult decisions a president has to make. 

When asked if he would have done the same thing as Obama during the auto crisis in May, he replied, “That’s a hypothetical question in the past. We’re going to talk about the future” — logic that sounds similar to Colonel Sandurz’s statement in Spaceballs that “we passed then” and “everything that happens now is happening now.”


To my genuine surprise, no one seems to be wilting under the bright lights of the 2016 campaign trail more thoroughly than Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who hasn’t seemed to be able to put a foot right since his presidential campaign began in earnest. Whether he’s allowing himself to get pushed around on staffing decisions, steering headlong into an avoidable hypocrisy, or enunciating policy positions without getting permission from his billionaire backers first, Walker’s proved to be easy to intimidate and inept at communicating

Rather than take a position on a matter, only to have to later pretend to have not done so, Walker will now limit his position-taking by refraining from taking positions on anything that happened in the past, or that might happen in the future. That will leave every reporter with a very narrow range of questions they’re allowed to ask, like, “You look handsome today. What is your secret?” This is probably all that Walker’s frail heart can handle…

By claiming exemption from doing the two things every presidential candidate has to do — enunciate the origins of their political thought and describe the steps they’d take in governing the country — Walker may have hit on a media technique that will keep his timorous candidacy alive. 


Yet this new guy — the one who tends to form a perimeter around issues with multiple positions — illuminates a main difference between National Walker and Wisconsin Walker. Scott Walker is masterful at running against Democrats, but he’s terrible at running against Republicans.

It’s one thing to take a principled stand against big government liberalism — it’s entirely another to navigate the negative space between 18 like-minded conservatives. And Walker has a deli-thin space in which to wiggle. He has to set himself apart from his opponents, but not say anything crazy to do so.

In several instances, the desire to outflank other conservatives has had Walker taking positions with which he’s clearly uncomfortable. When he appeared to oppose birthright citizenship, it reminded me of the times I had to tell my mother her meatloaf was delicious. It wasn’t in keeping with anything he had said during his last two decades in Wisconsin government…

[W]hen Walker runs against Democrats, he is, as he likes to say, “Unintimidated.” But when he sees a Republican sneaking up to siphon away his voters, he’s like an elephant seeing a mouse.


I think Ball misses the underlying problem that connects a dynamic, focused Scott Walker in Des Moines last January to the flailing and floundering Scott Walker today. With success came the GOP consultants.

In March, Walker inexplicably fired social media consultant Liz Mair (full disclosure, Liz is an acquaintance of mine and while our politics are not the same I hold her in high professional regard). At the time, Erick hinted at what was going on. As the Walker campaign gained prominence, the big name RNC consultants, people who have no loyalty to much of anything, began descending upon Walker’s organization like a bunch of vultures to toss out Walker loyalists and replace them with the inbred and incestuous little group of professional RNC consultants. As Erick said, if Walker is firing Liz Mair over something this contrived he is not ready for prime time…

These people don’t really have skin in the game as far as Walker’s candidacy is concerned. If Walker drops out, they will go back to their jobs at the RNC or the RNC will foist them off on some other luckless candidate. This is not to say that they wouldn’t rather be on a successful candidate’s team but the candidate’s failure has very little personal impact on them.

Do we really think Scott Walker hasn’t figured out what he believes? Or do think it is more likely that the tight little group of RNC cronies have played a significant role in this dog’s breakfast of gaffes and mixed messages. And now that Walker is enters a death spiral they are prepared to jettison him and, leech-like, latch onto something that is still alive and drain the life force from it, too.


Walker’s gaffes, opponents argue, haven’t just been the errant flubs of a frustrated candidate—they’ve been revealing of a politician who’s never bothered to learn about issues past his own doorstep. On subjects like immigration and foreign policy, it seems clear Walker is less a lifelong student of world affairs and more a kid who’s just realized he’ll flunk out if he doesn’t start cramming. For Wisconsinites accustomed to Walker’s dominance, his fall from glory nationally has been disorienting and out of character. Back home, he has always been focused, disciplined, on-message to a fault…

One popular explanation for Walker’s troubles is that he lacks a guru—a Karl Rove-type figure to guide him on the national stage. Walker has always been his own chief strategist—as one observer put it to me, “Scott Walker can’t fire his campaign manager, because his campaign manager is Scott Walker.”…

“I’ll be honest, I don’t know if there is somebody there [on the current team] who can tell him ‘no,’” one longtime Walker loyalist told me. This person worries that Walker is throwing the campaign away. “What you see right now is a campaign and a candidate that are chasing ghosts,” the loyalist said. “They’re chasing things that are not there, whether it’s Trump or a different position on this or that issue.”

Ribble, the Green Bay congressman, said Walker has always had a small inner circle of friends and advisers. “If there’s a problem, it’s that the circle needs to be bigger,” he said. Echoing many Walker backers I spoke to, he urged Walker to get back to basics. “Be Scott Walker,” he said. “Be the genuine person who won three elections in Wisconsin. Be the disciplined leader you’ve been before. Go back and be that person. That’s all you need to be.”


The schematic of competing “lanes” in the GOP nomination fight can be overly simplistic, but Walker’s largely Iowa-driven shifts have placed him in the insurgent lane more than anyone would have expected. They have also put him in direct competition with candidates who are more naturally suited to that role. “He’s not going to out-Cruz Cruz,” says a Republican strategist who is neutral in the 2016 race. His attempts to do so, meanwhile, have made him less appealing to the establishment.

“He made a strategic error that’s fairly fundamental,” argues a strategist for one rival candidate. “What happened to Walker is that he started off fairly well-positioned, with a good story to tell about his record in Wisconsin, but he moved very far to the right, where he ran into other candidates who were more appealing to that audience. . . . He didn’t look like the best guy to that audience in comparison to those alternatives, and by making that move he abandoned the center of the Republican electorate, so now he’s left with neither the center nor the right.”…

A source who knows the governor well says the problem is, in part, Walker’s team has not pushed him to figure out what he thinks and what he’ll say on the key issues. “There’s no coherent communications strategy,” says the source…

The advice you’ll hear from neutral observers to the campaign is, “Let Scott Walker be Scott Walker.”

“He needs to set the agenda and stop chasing rabbits. He chases a lot of rabbits,” says an unaffiliated Republican strategist who counsels a return to basics. “He’s got to get back to who he is, a reformer who’s policy driven, and stop reacting and trying to work his way into the news cycle every day.” As a governor of a Midwestern state, he adds, “The image problem he was always going to have was being seen as provincial. He has to be bigger. A lot of what he’s done over the last two months has been diminishing.”



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David Strom 6:41 PM on January 26, 2023