Scott Walker, the political phenomenon who rose to national fame by taking on unions in one of the most blue-collar states, announced Monday that he’ll seek the Republican nomination for president, using his kick-off rally to throw red meat to his conservative supporters.
“Americans want to vote for something and for someone,” Walker told the roaring crowd in Waukesha, Wisconsin. “So tonight, let me tell you what I’m for. I’m for reform, growth, safety. I’m for transferring power from Washington into the hands of hard working tax payers in all states across the country, that’s real reform.”…
“I realize unlike some out there I didn’t inherit fame or fortune from my family,” Walker said during a speech to a Christian broadcasters convention in February. “I got a bunch of things that were a whole lot better than that. I got from my parents and my grandparents the belief that if you work hard and you play by the rules, here in America you can do and be anything you want.”…
“Our donor is not the tried and true Republican donor in New York City that’s given to everybody since Reagan, Anthony Scaramucci, the founder of the investment firm SkyBridge Capital who is raising money for Walker, told CNN earlier this month. “We don’t have the mercenary donor that’s paying for past political favors.”
“Americans deserve a president who will fight and win for them,” Walker declared. “You see, It doesn’t matter if you’re from a big city, a suburb or a small town, I will fight and win for you. Healthy or sick, born or unborn, I will fight and win for you.”
He becomes the 15th high-profile Republican to enter the GOP presidential contest, yet claims to occupy a unique space in the congested field. He not only fights for conservative principles, he says, but he also wins elections and policy debates in a state that typically supports Democrats.
Speaking in the same hall where he celebrated his successful recall election three years earlier, Walker left little doubt that his successful, if divisive, fights with labor unions would serve as the foundation for his presidential campaign. Through five years in office, Walker enacted policies weakening organized labor’s political power and became the first governor in U.S. history to defeat a recall election.
Labor unions spent millions of dollars to defeat him, but failed.
He drives a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. He brags about wearing a sweater he bought for $1 at Kohl’s department store.
He touts his humble upbringing as a small-town minister’s son, and how he proposed to his wife over ribs at a local barbecue joint. Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, has criss-crossed the country for months regaling crowds with his everyman, “regular Joe” shtick…
“He’s a Midwesterner, he is a governor, and he is an average Joe,” said Larry Sabato, a politics expert at the University of Virginia. “People can relate to that. And if you pretend to be something you’re not, you’re going to be unmasked.”…
“This is who he is,” said Grover Norquist, the influential small government advocate who has praised many of Mr Walker’s reforms. “He didn’t come from privilege. And he’s going to fight on his track record in Wisconsin.”
Mr. Walker told The Washington Times one of his top domestic priorities would be to get the federal government out of the business of managing programs such as Medicaid, education, transportation and infrastructure, eliminating swaths of the federal bureaucracy and shifting the funding to states to manage as they see fit.
“We are going to shift power from Washington to the states because then a lot of the other challenges we face, they don’t become easy but they become easier once you tackle that,” Mr. Walker said in a wide-ranging interview just hours before he formally announced he was joining the 2016 presidential race…
Mr. Walker also believes in unleashing the economy through a series of across-the-board tax cuts, citing his record in Wisconsin where he has signed 15 tax measures reducing the tax burden by nearly $2 billion…
Asked what sort of levels he though appropriate, Mr. Walker cited the 1986 tax cuts enacted under Reagan. “I look back at where the tax rates were under Reagan and say, ‘Boy I think that’s a pretty good role model,” he said.
A Politico survey of Iowa GOP insiders on Friday found that 82 percent believed he would win the caucuses if they were held now.
Some Republicans believe Walker could have the secret sauce that enables him to go the distance beyond Iowa and bridge the divide in ways that other winners haven’t been able to do. An evangelical, he can speak to religious conservatives and social conservatives, even though some may be skeptical of his evolution on immigration reform and his wife and sons’ seeming support for same-sex marriage. His persistence against labor, though, and wins in Wisconsin have earned him the reverence of many establishment Republicans.
Even those who aren’t on Team Walker are praising the way he’s been able to consolidate support in the state. While his numbers have tightened, in such a crowded field, the share he is getting could be enough for a victory.
“They’re doing everything right to win Iowa,” said a high-level Iowa GOP operative who is likely to go work for a rival candidate. “It may take an act of God for him not to win Iowa. But if he doesn’t win, you can’t see a path for him anywhere else. Iowa is all about expectations, and, at this point, he’s not trying to downplay them.”
Whoever wins the GOP nomination can expect the liberal hate machine, a coalition of the Democratic Party and the mainstream media, to vilify the Republican standard bearer as a racist, sexist, homophobe who cares only for the rich and wants to throw elderly grandmothers off cliffs. They will elevate benign comments like “binders full of women” into grievous insults. But sometimes Republican candidates supply the liberal hate machine with rocks as Mitt Romney did when he made the infamous 47% remarks. Romney’s inability to communicate with people in a resonant way effectively rendered him unable to overcome the liberal hate machine.
This is what I believe sets Walker apart not only from Romney, but the current 2016 GOP field. Like anyone else, Walker is human. He will make mistakes and say things in the wrong way. Last February, when speaking about ISIS, Walker said, “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world.” Walker was criticized for appearing to have compared union activists to ISIS and took heat for it for a day or so (even from some conservatives). But the story quickly ran its course. I think it’s very clear that Scott Walker didn’t intend to compare union activists to ISIS and it is equally clear that most people intrinsically understood that. As such it did him no lasting damage.
I don’t know if Walker has skin made of Teflon, but it is certainly thicker than that of the present occupant in the White House. What has toughened him is the fact that liberals from all over the country have made a concerted effort to unseat Walker and undo his reforms and he has found a way to beat them at every turn. It is no small accomplishment that Walker is the first governor in American history to survive a recall vote.
Walker’s score is 7 points more conservative than the average Republican candidate (63). To give you an idea of how big a difference that is, the difference between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders was only 2 points (25 vs. 23) during the same period. Walker’s score places him among candidates that most would generally regard as too bombastic or far-right to win the nomination, such as Ted Cruz, 2008 runner-up Mike Huckabee and 2012 runner-up Rick Santorum. Pat Buchanan, the last standing conservative alternative in 1996, scored a 73 in primary polls…
In other words, the ideology of the average Republican voter now matches up nearly perfectly with the ideology voters have assigned to Walker. He isn’t too extreme for the party; the other candidates are more moderate than the average Republican voter…
Walker doesn’t have the electability problem of a Buchanan, a Huckabee or a Santorum. Like Reagan, Walker was actually elected governor of a swing state4 more than once. Walker was re-elected in 2014 even as almost all the voters saw him as conservative or very conservative. On our 0-to-100 ideological scale, he scored a 75 among likely Wisconsin voters in the final October 2014 Marquette University Law School poll. That gives him a talking point that recent conservative challengers didn’t have.
[F]or all the lingering enmity, as Walker prepares to announce his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, his rivals also grudgingly respect him as a rare and exceptionally canny politician who’s constantly underestimated and always outperforms expectations.
He’s a sneaky-smart campaigner, they say, a polished and level-headed tactician, a master at reading crowds. He learned the value of ignoring uncomfortable questions, rather than answering them. In hindsight, the many politicians he pancaked on the road to the national stage — in races for the state Assembly, county executive and governor — almost invariably see his career as an elaborate practice run for the White House…
“He’s got antennas,” said the adviser, who also requested anonymity. “He’s the real deal. As time goes on, you’ll get more of that vibe as you cover him. He can come across as a little arrogant, obviously. But with real people out there, he’s really, really good. He’s just in touch with what they’re looking for.”…
Today, Baas — whose surname was Paque at the time of the special election — says she’s glad she didn’t block Walker’s path. “I think when he ran for Legislature and county executive and governor and now president, people have continually underestimated him,” she said. “If I had known how good he was, I wouldn’t have run. When he talked to a group of people, people felt like he was one of them. He knew what connected, what resonated.”
Having seen him in action as a politician and heard him speak at large gatherings and in small rooms, I think the key to Walker is his imperturbability. He is a man with an astoundingly level temperament. It is clearly very difficult if not impossible to rile him, a quality central to his ability to ride out controversies and attacks and assaults that would have torn other politicians to pieces.
The flipside of that is that he cannot really get too excited, and he can’t quite rally others to his cause through the power of his presence or his words. His announcement speech showed energy and fluency — but while it was not dispassionate, it was in no way emotive.
He can be good-natured, and in an understated way he projects an air of terrific self-confidence, but Walker is in neither an inspirational nor an aspirational candidate. His opening slogan is “Reform, Growth, Safety,” which gets the job done but doesn’t exactly sing. But you got a sense of what a smart and savvy politician he is when he got himself into the news stories on the pending Iran deal by insisting he would cancel it on Day One of his presidency.
In this regard, he is basically the polar opposite of Marco Rubio, his fellow top-tier candidate. Rubio is all inspiration and aspiration. Perhaps the best extemporaneous political speaker of our time, Rubio can leave you with your jaw on the floor. He is pure star power. Walker wants his offhanded manner to win you over in due time.
On Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David, invoking the spirit of Henry Clay, quipped “a good compromise leaves everybody dissatisfied.” Compromise is the sort of talking point constantly pushed by moderates that pleases absolutely no one beyond the Beltway journalists feeding it to them. Conservatives–not even just the true-red hardcore ones, but the moderates as well who are tired of losing–don’t want a President who will reach across the aisle and work with Democrats. They want someone who will steamroll them like Obama did during his first two years, damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead. And Scott Walker? He’s certainly not going to be touting his record of working with Democrats in Wisconsin, not after signing Act 10, concealed carry, and Right-To-Work legislation into law…and that’s exactly why he’s enormously popular. Conservatives dream of someone who will break what’s left of the tired and aged Democratic minority in Congress, and leave them on an ash heap, barely able to comprehend how old and outdated their party faces have become while wallowing in the mess left for them to clean up as their own demi-god strolls out of office singing “Amazing Grace” to himself. There can be no compromise this election.
If he can tap into the average-humble-guy-from-the-heartland vibe, Walker will be immensely difficult to stop. He’ll have to overcome a media complex that will paint him as a cartoonish goofy looking derp puppet of the Koch Brothers, but that was a narrative that wasn’t too successful when Harry Reid’s goon squad attempted it this past November. It’s hard to see it working well outside of the activist Democratic base but that base will be out in force like a Middle Earth Orc army should Walker secure the nomination. This is a political ideology that will arm itself with every SNL cliche or College Humor trick in the book, especially when they won’t have Jon Stewart around to help them anymore. It will be a street fight and they will be looking to take back the skulls Walker has claimed from them. It’s the spotlight of the entertainment wing of the Democrat party that he has to be prepared for…
No Republican has ever defeated an Obama or a Clinton, and both will be campaigning to assure none ever will. Scott Walker, however, is the only candidate that has defeated their tactics. Unanswerable public sector unions and their overburdening costs and pensions are bankrupting the country both economically and educationally. For too long they had they’ve had free reign of the asylum, negotiating sweetheart deals with their well-puppeteered marionette politicians and torching every opponent that has stood in their way. All except one. As of today, Scott Walker becomes Public Enemy Number One.
And that’s exactly the way he wants it.