If this is how Scott Walker treats his “friends,” God help his enemies. Probably the single hardest shot of the nascent 2016 primaries so far:
On Bush and his support from GOP establishment: “We had Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney. If it’s just whoever’s next up, that hasn’t worked so well for the Republican party in the past. … Jeb’s a good man. You’re not going to hear me speak ill will of Jeb. He’s a friend of mine, He called me two days before (announcing) his PAC, I think highly of him. I just think voters are going to look at this and say, ‘If we’re running against Hillary Clinton, we’ll need a name from the future – not a name from the past – to win.’ ”
On Bush’s fundraising: “Yeah, he’ll have by far the biggest report. There’s a lot of people who are loyal to that family because of an ambassadorship or an appointment or something like that, so those people are going to show up big on his first report. What we’re hoping going forward are not donors of obligation but donors of passion, people who are passionate about the reforms we bring to the table.”
Like Drew McCoy, I’m annoyed by his flip-flopping on ethanol and I’m (a little) annoyed by his flip-flopping on amnesty, but throwing roundhouses at the establishment’s fair-haired boy for being a shameless dynasty pick is a quick path back to my republican heart. I can’t quit you, Scott Walker. (And if you think he’s being tough on Jeb, wait until Christie starts jabbing.) Truth be told, I’m surprised he’d get this rough this early. Walker’s a potential back-up choice for those same ambassadors and appointees if Jeb struggles and one of the right-wing candidates looks strong early. He’s basically accusing them of quid pro quo cronyism here, an accusation they won’t appreciate. Plenty of country-club Republicans are fond of the Bushes on the merits, not just because they’re good for business. Maybe Walker figured there’s no point holding back since Jeb’s inevitably going to use his mountain of fundraising money to build an attack-ad Death Star against him and the rest of the field. Why bother being nice to the Emperor when you know he’s going to try to blow you up anyway?
Plus, attacking Bush early is smart strategically in how it subtly feeds the idea of a two-man “Bush vs. Walker” race. Note the movement on the left side of this table:
Walker may believe, not incorrectly, that the campaign is destined to become a “Jeb versus Not Jeb” contest once Bush starts spending big bucks to introduce himself to the center-right. If he jumps up to, say, 35 percent, conservatives may panic and decide they have no choice but to rally around the most formidable Not Jeb in the race. Even those who, like Drew, are suspicious of Walker after the pandering of the past month will find it in their hearts to forgive in the interest of stopping Jeb. So yeah, Walker has a reason to attack Bush. The question is, does Bush attack back and feed the “Jeb vs. Scott” narrative or does he try to promote Walker’s conservative competition on the right somehow? Until Rubio and Ted Cruz show they’re a threat to win the nomination, they’re useful to Bush as guys who can steal votes from Walker and split the anti-Bush wing of the party. He needs them in the race, and not just as asterisks.
Speaking of which, here’s Ted Cruz hinting heavily to Glenn Beck that yes, he’s ready to jump into the 2016 pool soon too. Exit quotation via Jonah Goldberg: “Jeb, it seems to me, is the one Republican candidate who makes the Clinton brand name an asset rather than a liability.”