Scott Walker suspended his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination on September 21 shortly after it was revealed that the Governor of Wisconsin was polling at less than 1% in the latest CNN/ORC poll. What a collapse for the candidate who was the front-runner in Iowa in July.
I had the opportunity to meet Scott Walker during the Republican Northeast Leadership Conference in June. Given that I had written several articles about Walker over the last year, I was excited about having the opportunity to meet him and hear him speak. I was extremely impressed with his ability to engage the crowd with a cogent message that was simultaneously bold, practical, and hopeful. He won the audience over with his “every man” background and warm, casual manner. Like the other attendees, I admired him for the tough stance he took against the unions and was impressed with the fact that he had been elected governor three times in the blue state of Wisconsin, including during the now famous recall election. But what most impressed me about Walker was the way he spoke of America as the place where “you can be anything you want to be, if you work hard and play by the rules”.
The day I saw Walker speak he had not yet formally announced his bid for the presidency. When he finally made his much-anticipated announcement in July, it was met with much excitement, and for the first few weeks post his campaign launch, he was consistently in the top five. By early September, his numbers started falling. Of course this fall off coincided with the growing rise of the current front-runner real estate mogul and reality star, Donald Trump. Walker endeavored to reboot his campaign with plans to gain more momentum, including a proposal to reign in the unions and public relations gimmicks such as his plan to ride his Harley through the key New Hampshire counties to conduct meet and greets. However, these efforts were clearly not working. It was painfully obvious during the second 2016 Republican debate, which aired on CNN on September 16, that Walker’s star was fading. During the lengthy three hour debate, CNN only allocated 8.24 minutes to Walker vs. the 18.30 given to Donald Trump. Furthermore, during the brief time where he had the floor, Walker failed to distinguish himself with any memorable comments. It was as if he was already fading into the woodworks. At the same time, the campaign money was drying up. The Walker campaign needed a financial boost and given the candidate’s free fall in the polls, the money was hardly rolling in.
Consequently, when Walker suspended his campaign, or as we say in the vernacular “dropped out,” many were initially shocked but ultimately not surprised. Like me, they were disappointed because Scott Walker was in many ways such an appealing candidate. During Walker’s formal campaign suspension announcement, he mostly took the high road. “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,” he announced. He went on to say that Republicans have lost the “optimistic view of America” and called out to other candidates to also “lead” by suspending their campaigns “so that the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive, conservative alternative to the current front-runner.”
While Walker showed leadership by leaving the race when he realized that he did not have a chance to win, and by also calling upon others to demonstrate the same self-awareness, he tarnished his gracious exit by taking a swipe at the un-named “front-runner” Donald Trump. Walker could have left the building without that parting shot. He is better than that.
The good news is that Walker, who celebrates his 48th birthday in November, is still young. There is always 2020 or 2024. It is way too soon to count Scott Walker out.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com