Gov. Scott Walker Goes Back to His Day Job

23 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Exit Scott Walker.

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK – Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin abruptly pulled out of the 2016 US presidential race on Monday, doomed by a lightning-quick collapse from serious contender to also-ran candidate struggling to raise money. When Republican Scott Walker suddenly quit the 2016 presidential race he called on the party to rally around a strong conservative candidate who could win the election.Scott Walker has halted his 2016 White House bid, warning the Republican race has become too nasty and calling on some of his party rivals to do the same, citing an urgent need to “clear the field” to help defeat front-runner Donald Trump.

Walker’s departure left his rivals seeking the Republican nomination for the November 2016 presidential election scrambling to appeal to his supporters in the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire as well as elsewhere. There is little unity, however, among his supporters on who to back now, reflecting the dilemma many Republicans face in choosing among 15 candidates. The announcement marked a dramatic fall for Walker, 47, who was struggling to generate fundraising and enthusiasm after surging into the race’s top tier earlier in the year.

Johnson, Iowa coalitions director for former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum’s 2012 bid, had backed a different do-over candidate for 2016: former Texas Governor Rick Perry. He will return to his job in Wisconsin as governor, where his term runs until 2018. “Today, I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive conservative message can rise to the top of the field.

His staff disagreed about how the 47-year-old Walker could regain the star status he held after electrifying conservatives in Iowa in January. ‘He started with great expectations and he didn’t meet ‘em,’ said Iowa Republican strategist Doug Gross. ‘You go down pretty fast when that happens.’ Walker’s departure reflected the difficulty faced by the 15-candidate field in attracting enough financial support from a limited pool of donors. Interviews on Tuesday with two dozen people who told Reuters/Ipsos pollsters they had backed the Wisconsin governor in the past showed they are far from settling on another candidate. There is already one news report suggesting that Walker allies think he could still wind up the GOP nominee in 2016 via some sort of convention floor fight. The two Republican governors were both plausible contenders when they jumped into the presidential pool — Pawlenty in 2011, Walker this year — only to founder as more charismatic competitors made bigger splashes.

Of the group, seven said they were leaning toward retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, four liked real estate mogul Donald Trump, four leaned toward former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, two liked Florida Senator Marco Rubio and the rest were undecided. He had boned up on the issues, determined not to repeat his disastrous performance four years earlier when he appeared not to know very much about the world beyond Texas, and several wealthy Texans were eager to finance a second chance. This is nothing short of lunacy—the kind of idea that should have its promoters checking the levels of mind-altering substances in their morning coffee. If anything, Walker’s early departure from what is now a 15-candidate field is the more surprising — and more revealing about the mind-sets of the nation’s Republican voters in the run-up to the election of a new president in 2016.

Many of their choices appeared to be driven by the candidates’ personalities rather than their positions. “Myself, I’m leaning toward Trump and my wife says she is leaning toward Rubio,” said Jim Clark, 79, a Walker supporter from New Berlin, Illinois. “Trump tells it like it is. But if Walker’s prospects for the becoming the Republican Party’s 2016 nominee are even dimmer today than they were at lunchtime on Monday, his overall political prospects have not lost their shine, at least not substantially.

Only four years ago, Walker was being hailed as a conservative hero for stripping public employee unions of collective bargaining rights in what, until then, was considered a state friendly to organized labor. The one-time frontrunner seemed listless and lost. “Someone asked me: ‘What’s happened to Walker?'” recalled Johnson. “I said: ‘You know how some candidates are trying to find his voice?

He reminds me of (former Democratic President) Harry Truman.” Beverly Fenton, 80, of Sumter, South Carolina, said she liked Walker at first but eventually found him wanting. Instead of talking about how bad things are, we want to hear about how we can make them better for everyone.” Walker’s fall was in many ways more dramatic than Perry’s. His anti-union crusade, and his ability to survive a recall attempt in 2012, won him national notice and the backing of the GOP kingmaking Koch brothers. He was thought to be a leader in the crowded field for much of the year and built a massive national organisation with paid staff spread across the country that dwarfed many of his rivals in scale and scope. “I’m not sure what went wrong,” said Iowa state senator Mark Costello, who endorsed Walker earlier this year. “I think all the more provocative statements some of the candidates made got them more press. The old blue shirt with sleeves rolled up twice wasn’t cutting it anymore.” Outside of Iowa, the Walker campaign’s collapse has accentuated something that conservatives started to worry about when Perry’s fell apart.

Ben Carson because he’s sincere and he’s not full of bombast,” said Alan Rowley, 73, of West Wendover, Nevada. “And I like Carly Fiorina because I think she’s really, really smart and I think she could take the challenge to (Democrat) Hillary Clinton.” Walker appealed to a mix of Christian conservatives and center-right establishment Republicans who admired his record of taking on public unions in Wisconsin and winning elections three times. But for Wisconsinites, and especially Wisconsin Republicans, Thompson remains a larger-than-life figure who occupied the governor’s mansion for 14 years and gained fame for reforming welfare in the state. He tried to cast himself as an unintimidated conservative fighter who had a record of victories in a state that has not voted Republican for president since 1984.

The hard-won reforms of this cycle — the truncated debate schedule, the unceremonious burial of the Iowa Straw Poll — were supposed to prevent this. The Tea Party liked him, the party establishment thought he was salable, and the evangelicals and fiscal hawks warmed to him as a man of courage and grit who was not only willing to fight, but who had won his fights once, twice and again.

Walker came to the race having won election in Wisconsin three times in four years, and having gained a national following among donors and conservatives by successfully pushing his state to strip union bargaining rights from its public workers. But he wilted on the national stage, struggling to demonstrate he had firm grasp of major policy issues, doing poorly in two televised debates and giving shifting answers to questions about illegal immigration.

Walker, like Rick Perry, forgot what every traveling salesman before him has to know — and a candidate for president is the ultimate traveling salesman: “You’ve got to know the territory — the territory, the territory, the territory.” Mr. Despite what his critics say, there’s no reason to believe that Walker can’t keep winning elections in the Badger State, assuming he’s able to rebuild some bridges burnt in the course of this presidential foray. The quick judgment of history is that he was, surprisingly, bad at running for president, repetitive on the stump, too easily flummoxed by a gotcha media. “I can’t put my finger on the reasons why Rick Perry didn’t get traction,” said Rep. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Florida Senator Rubio and other candidates were making direct calls to some Walker donors asking for their support. Chart Westcott, a Texas biotech investor who donated $200,000 to Walker’s fund-raising Super PAC, Unintimidated, said he was already fielding calls from other campaigns.

In interviews, he appeared to not understand, for example, the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform or the details of why the dissolution of the Export-Import Bank is a goal of many conservatives. Presumably this is something he will be giving substantial thought to over the coming days, weeks and months, but he has seemed to gravitate to issues and policies that allow him a claim to be delivering for the “hardworking taxpayers” of his state. However, more and more Republicans like our chances as we look at the flailing hot mess that is the former Secretary Clinton’s campaign and candidacy.

He cast his exit as an effort to help voters see and support “a positive, conservative alternative to the current front-runner,” and he urged other candidates to follow his example and “help clear the field.” Walker’s Minnesota supporters undoubtedly regret that Walker himself won’t provide that alternative. Conservative opinionators and influencers have been talking up the idea of Scott Walker, America’s most prominent union buster, becoming Secretary of Labor. His campaign would have been dogged by hostility from organized labor and its allies, while critics decried his tightfisted state policies and faulted Wisconsin’s economic performance on his watch. If I give the same speech every time it loses a bit.” As surviving campaigns scramble for Walker’s endorsers — and there were many — a strategist for one of the Wisconsin governor’s rivals argued that he locked up elite support without following through. Observers were noting that Wisconsin’s neighbor to the west — similar in size, culture and history — has rebounded more strongly from the Great Recession and boasts both a lower unemployment rate and a healthier state balance sheet.

That tells you a lot about the level of commitment of some on Walker’s team.” The decline of Walker from icon to laughingstock happened with Barry Allen speed. Secretary of Agriculture, however, might be feasible, and let’s not forget that Walker comes from a state with a significant farm economy—so he does know ag. Walker’s three statewide wins in Wisconsin, always mentioned in his speeches, fed into a conservative meme that he “sat on a throne of skulls.” It was the most compelling story in politics, until everyone heard it, and moved on to more inspiring candidates. “We got Ben Carson in front of the people of Iowa,” said Ryan Rhodes, Iowa director for that other surprise, surging outsider. “As he says, people have big brains, and they know how to use them.” Michael Steele, the most recent former chairman of the Republican National Committee, argued that neither Walker nor Perry proved that there was an “establishment” backlash. I remember well the night of the recall election, several dairy farmers who were Walker contributors gushing to me about him, and how focused he had been on agriculture (as well as reminding me that my grilled cheese sandwich was made possible by their cows.) Right now, this feels like a stretch, but bear with me.

Voters, he said, were still going to study up on candidates with executive experience. “It’s just tough to be running a traditional campaign in a time when voters aren’t looking for traditional,” he said. “I think it was hard for them to grab traction. Moreover, some of them have real worries about whether certain individuals involved in his presidential campaign might be brought by him into any future job, and would probably want for the presidential team to retain100 percent control over staffing.

First, he is a tried and tested attack dog—one who would do a great job as a lightning rod at the bottom of the ticket (and that does have its merits). Fourth, he has shown that he knows how to win in Wisconsin, a state Republicans would sure like to put in our column again—though how replicable that be in a presidential year is, at this point, hard to guess.

His most recent outing did cause some eye rolls, raised eyebrows, and the occasional pounding of foreheads against tables, but that’s actually an anomaly for him. But the GOP has a history of nominating people who have run before (probably because they, like Walker, grievously underestimated how tough a presidential run would be the first time they undertook it, and prepared better the second time around). But he’s still a good ways off the faux-conservative, gaffe-a-minute, RomneyCare authoring, robotic, weird-joke-making, awkward flip-flopper with daddy issues that was Mitt Romney after his ’08 loss. He doesn’t say weird things like “I was a severely conservative Republican governor,” which sounds like utter nonsense delivered by someone new to the English language.

He didn’t write the blueprint for a law that his own party wants to repeal, and which roughly half the country has a significant problem with at any given time. But in order to seize on them, he needs to clear his head, clear his adviser pool, take a break, and get back to spending real time with his family and friends.

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