Walker: I support a path to citizenship in comprehensive immigration reform

If Scott Walker is thinking about seizing the momentum of his groundbreaking conservative reforms in Wisconsin to set himself up as a presidential candidate in 2016, you’d never guess it from his interview yesterday in a Politico conference. That’s not so much because of his position on immigration, which essentially supports that of Marco Rubio — a path to citizenship that puts normalized candidates at the back of the line — but from his suggestion of who would make a great candidate for the GOP in the next cycle.  But first, Governor Walker states that the entire immigration system is broken and badly needs reform to make it effective at attracting people to the US, and that normalization should be part of any reform effort:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Friday that he supports a pathway to citizenship to illegal immigrants but said that people who are waiting in line should have “first preference.”

“You’ve got to find a way to say that people who are in line right now have first preference,” the Republican governor said at POLITICO’s third annual State Solutions Conference in Washington. …

“We just have a broken system. And to me, if somebody wants to come in and live the American dream and work hard … we should have a system that works and let’s people in,” Walker told POLITICO’s Jonathan Martin at the event.

Again, that’s the Rubio position, which doesn’t exactly represent the conservative wing of the GOP but has some significant traction among the general public.

What about 2016?  Walker declined to comment on his own prospects, but offered a suggestion about who might have the best credentials to run — except for the last name:

“I think it would have a major impact just because he’s a great performer. And I mean that in the best of sense,” Walker said. “You look at his two terms of governor of obviously a tremendously large and significant state — and he turned things around in terms of the economy… He’s got a great record of success.”

And if it wasn’t for his last name, Bush might’ve been talked up to run for president sooner.

“I think frankly in this election and in the past, if you took your finger and covered his last name and just talked about Jeb, there’d be a lot of us who would be talking about him running for president a lot sooner than now,” Walker said.

Walker also told Politico that he had no plans to follow up on his victory in PEU reform to pursue a broader right-to-work statute in Wisconsin, saying that he “essentially did it last time” in targeting just the public-employee unions where the problem is greatest.  Right now, Walker seems more concerned with his upcoming re-election bid in 2014 than in a 2106 bid for the top job, and wants to focus on assuring Wisconsin voters that a second term will chart a more bipartisan course.