But now think about Scott Walker. He doesn’t share any of Giuliani’s liberal social views. He’s stuck to the same conservative ideology since entering Wisconsin politics more than two decades ago — no sudden Romney-ish transformations for him. He speaks openly of his Christian faith without hemming himself in demographically like Huckabee. His family life appears in order and with the John Doe investigation seemingly going nowhere, he lacks the profound personal and ethical baggage that undermined Gingrich. And he’s run and won three bruising, closely-watched elections in a blue-tinged state — meaning that he’s vetted and accustomed to the media crucible in ways that Cain and Perry weren’t.
In other words, he lacks all of the major flaws that kept McCain’s foes from capitalizing on his vulnerability in 2008 and that kept Romney’s from doing the same in 2012. More than that, Walker brings to the race a story that both Republican purists and pragmatists can get excited about – a governor who pulled his swing state sharply to the right without sacrificing his electability. More than any Republican who opposed Romney or McCain, Walker has the potential to occupy that sweet spot where the party base and establishment meet.
Bush will have an enormous war chest, and the significance of that can’t be overstated. For as long as he’s a candidate, Walker figures to be playing catch-up on this front. But Bush’s poll numbers indicate that the GOP faithful are just as eager for an alternative as they were with Romney four years ago. Romney caught a break because all of those alternatives ended up being spectacularly unviable. Bush may not be so lucky.