In search of the Wisconsin version of Scott Walker

I like Scott Walker quite a lot. He’s one of my favorite governors to come down the pipe in a long time. He has taken the fight to the liberals in his state from day one in office, and won far more than he’s lost. Really, Walker should be walking away with both my personal vote and the nomination by this point, based on his record.

But something vague and barely definable has happened to Walker on the national campaign trail that continues to make voters like me hesitant. Walker’s record is still the same, and it’s still the same guy who’s up on stage giving those speeches. When he talks about what he’s accomplished and the vision he has for the country, it’s hard not to get on board. However, for some reason that no one can really seem to pinpoint, Walker just doesn’t seem… comfortable in his skin as a national candidate. On certain issues of national importance, Walker just seems unable or unwilling to harness the directness and clearness of purpose that defined his statewide campaign.

On perhaps no issue has that been more evident than immigration. One gets the very clear sense that this is not an issue that is of personal importance to Walker and so, like other similar issues, he is essentially allowing other people to drive this particular bus so that he can talk about the stuff that does matter to him. While this approach might work on a statewide level, on a national level it leads to embarrassment and disaster – particularly with respect to an issue that draws such harsh scrutiny from dedicated activists like immigration.