This is the sort of A-list Trump-skeptic Republican that the GOP’s been hoping would come around in time for the convention. Maybe, with Scott Walker playing the good soldier in Cleveland, there’s now enough political cover for other big names like Ted Cruz to suck it up and speak on Trump’s behalf too.
But probably not.
“I think there is a clear contrast,” said Gov. Walker. “For those who raise concerns like I just did about the judgement of Hillary Clinton in terms of not just those emails, but some of the other issues out there, really there’s only one alternative.”
Gov. Walker acknowledged that in agreeing to speak at the RNC he is rejecting the idea that Trump could be replaced as the GOP presidential nominee on the convention floor, which at least 400 of the 2,472 delegates will be attempting to pull off in Cleveland.
“Well, I think it’s more just a reality,” said Gov. Walker. “From the delegates I’ve talked to here in Wisconsin, as well as those across the country, as much as there have been legitimate issues raised and concerns – the bottom line is most delegates are headed down the path that I am, which is that it’s a clear contrast. It’s either gonna be Hillary Clinton or it’s gonna be Donald Trump and we have to decide who we want it to be.”
Until today, Walker had distinguished himself as an anti-Trumper twice over. First was when he enthusiastically backed Cruz in Wisconsin, helping him win the state and setting him on a course which seemed at the time like it might at least force a second ballot on the nomination at the convention. The second time came last month when he endorsed the idea of letting the delegates vote their consciences instead of sticking to the results of their states’ primary. No bigger name within the GOP has come out in favor of that idea. In fact, there was even a rumor floating around for a few weeks that if the delegates did depose Trump, Walker would make himself available as a replacement nominee. Today’s about-face may be the strongest evidence yet that the “Dump Trump” movement at the convention is going nowhere. If Walker thought there was any chance of a coup, presumably he’d still be keeping his powder dry.
Although if that’s too painful for you to stomach, there’s always the possibility that Walker has reason to believe that a coup is happening and he’s laying the groundwork for party unity in the aftermath by suddenly adopting an “Anyone but Hillary” attitude. If Trump is dumped and we end up with nominee Walker, getting out in front of the idea that the Democrat must be defeated at all costs will help him convince angry Trump fans not to walk away from the party.
Nah, I’m just kidding. The guy’s obviously throwing in the towel on the Trump resistance. It’s all over.
I’m curious about his convention speech now. Speaking in Cleveland doesn’t necessarily mean defending Trump: Walker or Marco Rubio, who’s also said he’s willing to speak, could get up there, spend 15 minutes extolling conservatism and excoriating Clinton, and never even utter the word “Trump.” But the media will be looking for that and Republicans surely know it; neither Trump nor the RNC want any “Republicans refuse to acknowledge their own nominee!” headlines the day after. If you’re going to take to the podium, you’re stuck saying a few nice words about Trump. (Although not too many. Rubio’s running statewide in four months and Walker may yet run again for governor.) I wonder if Walker didn’t decide to do this as a favor to his old pal and fellow Wisconsinite Reince Priebus, who’s surely desperate at this point to have some speakers onstage who, unlike Bob Knight and the Trump kids, can make conservatives feel a little more enthusiastic about nominating Trump. Cruz would obviously be a nice get, as would Nikki Haley. Who else? Is there anyone Reince could roll out there to make #NeverTrumpers say, “Ah, okay, Trump it is”?