Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was once viewed as one of the most exciting 2016 GOP presidential candidates. His everyman message and track record of standing up to the unions really resonated with voters. Peoples were impressed with his being elected three times in a blue state including a now famous recall election. He energized the crowds with his no-nonsense style and hopeful message for the future. Lately, however, Governor Walker’s campaign appears to have lost some spark.
According to a recent Monmouth University poll of likely Iowa voters, Walker is coming in fourth place with 7% of the vote. Real estate magnate Donald Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson are tied for first place at 23%, followed by former Hewlett-Packard CE0 Carly Fiorina at 10% and Texas Senator Ted Cruz at 9%. Like every other GOP candidate, Walker’s campaign is feeling the Trump effect. It is challenging to stand out when the front-runner is getting the lion share of the media coverage. Trump’s ability to endlessly captivate the media with his comments and his tactics is making all the other candidates appear boring by comparison. After all, who can top free helicopter rides for the kids at the Iowa State Fair?
Walker is trying to re-energize his campaign by reinforcing the message that unlike some of the other candidates, he is a true conservative. To that end, he released a campaign advertisement where he attacked Jeb Bush with the caption that depicted the former Florida Governor as one of the “Republicans who don’t know what they stand for”. Walker had previously publically stated that he would not attack other Republicans. Instead he would focus on positioning himself against the Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. Recently, Walker has passed up opportunities to publically oppose the comments of other GOP candidates including Donald Trump, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal etc. In fact, when the Speaker of the House John Boehner called Senator Ted Cruz a jackass, Walker defended Cruz. Walker’s singling out Bush for a side by side comparison shows that he is trying to differentiate himself as a conservative leader who takes a position and does not waiver from it. On the other hand, Bush has taken some heat for his non-conservative stances on topics including common core, immigration etc. and for waffling on his positions.
Walker also has to contend with some recent faux pas on the campaign trail including changing his position on the 14th amendment three times within one week. First he said, he agree with Trump’s position that the 14th amendment should be repealed. Then he backpedaled his recommendation for repealing it. Finally, he decided to “not take a position”. Walker also had another weak moment when he suggested that in addition to the wall between the United States and Mexico which Trump has proposed, he recommended the building of a wall between the United States and Canada. Walker’s premise was that terrorist plots have been hatched in Canada included a thwarted “Millenium Plot” in 2000 where an Algerian terrorist planned to enter the United States from Canada and bomb the Los Angeles Airport. Walker was lampooned by Republicans and Democrats alike for this suggestion. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont was quick to dismiss the proposal. “Gov. Walker simply must be unaware of the economic prosperity that commerce across the northern border brings to the United States,” Leahy said in a statement. “Those of us who represent states that share a border with Canada know better. … It is disappointing but not surprising that yet another Republican presidential candidate is using the border to score cheap political points.”
Scott Walker is perceptive enough to realize that he only has a brief window to make the case for his campaign with the American people. The media and the public have a limited attention span, He realizes that not only does he need a strong message which resonates with the conservative base, he also needs to find a way to get his message heard especially in light of the attention focused on Trump. Let Trump have his helicopter, Walker has a motorcycle. In fact, he has just announced his plans to ride his Harley throughout ten counties in New Hampshire with the hope that this “on the road” tactic brings in new supporters. The election is still months away. Walker still has a chance to kick start his campaign. Anything can happen between now and November 2016.
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