After months of anticipation, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced his bid for the 2016 GOP nomination for president.
Walker, who has a track record of standing up to the Wisconsin unions, was elected Wisconsin governor in 2010, famously survived a 2012 recall attempt, and was re-elected again in 2014. Walker, the 15th candidate in the GOP horse race, who has been polling at or near the top of the national polls for months, is clearly trying to differentiate himself from the pack by positioning himself as a fighter for everyday people.
“I am running for President to fight and win for the American people… It’s not too late. We can make our country great again.” These are powerful words. Will they take him to the finish line?
Walker certainly cuts a strong leadership presence. I recently had the good fortune to attend one of his public appearances. I can certainly attest to his ability to exude leadership and engage the crowd.
However, like every candidate, Walker has had his miss-steps. First of all, he has been accused of flip flopping on issues including immigration and abortion. He previously had said that he supported a path to citizenship, but recently he has distanced himself from these comments. Last year, he made very neutral comments about abortion and reproductive rights. Most recently, he supported a ban on 20 week abortions. Obviously, as the campaign is advancing, Walker is moving more to the right, playing to the conservative base. In fact, following the Supreme Court’s ruling on Same Sex Marriage, he took a very hard opposition line, calling for a constitutional amendment. Even some Republicans thought he might have gone a little too far.
Walker has been touting his “successful” record as Wisconsin Governor as a key reason to support his candidacy of president. And while Walker by many measures has been a successful governor, there have been some miss-steps in Wisconsin as well. Many believe that he under delivered on his economic promise to the state. During his campaign he promised to create 250,000 private sector jobs, but to date he has only created 150,000. Others say that he overstates his achievements on the education front. Walker cites the rise in test scores and high school graduation rates, but critics say that the upward trend for these metrics was already place before he was elected governor. Walker has also come under scrutiny for his lack of foreign policy experience. While in Europe earlier this year, he made a public faux pas when discussing evolution. And of course, the liberal elite have been quick to claim that Walker who left Marquette University 34 credits short of a degree might not have the “smarts” to be president.
Walker, despite his short comings, has demonstrated a few key attributes that indicate that he may have the “right stuff” to be president.
First of all, his willingness to take on tough battles like the unions shows that he is not afraid to take on an unpopular challenge. Secondly, he has a track record of strong fiscal responsibility within the state of Wisconsin. This bodes well for the how he will manage the United States’ budget. But most importantly, Walker conveys a belief in America’s greatness and the power of the American people. We are desperately in need of leadership and optimism. If Walker convinces the American people that he has that mix of competencies, he stands a chance at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.