Lessons from Scott Walker's national media baptism

“Media bias is a fact, but it is not a message,” says Kevin Madden, a senior adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign. “Persuadable voters don’t care. You knew this was the deal when you, the candidate, got into the race.”

Conservative columnist Matt Lewis argued this week that a candidate’s surrogates and the center-right media—not the candidates­ themselves—should point out the perceived bias. “I’m tired of this whining and playing the victim card. That’s what liberals do. If Republicans are to win the White House, conservatives will have to take this advice: Learn to adapt and overcome—not complain about media bias,” he wrote.

Most campaign veterans know that engaging all types of media and questions is an integral component of a leader’s job. “Playing martyr of the liberal media only gets so far. Part of your job as president is dealing with that,” says Steve Deace, a conservative radio host in Iowa. Once the candidate appears on the debate stage with the others, and American voters are really paying attention, he says, “the ‘I’m the media martyr’ goes out the window.”

As for the observation the media seems laser focused on the GOP presidential field, it’s true, but that’s mainly because it’s where the public interest is. Republicans are facing a true primary, one that will likely include many first-time presidential contenders. Clinton has been in the public eye for three decades and has run for president before. She’s much more a known quantity, which is why she can afford to stay relatively quiet—for now. And while candidates such as Walker, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush have run for office and campaigned on national stages, none has run for president before.