Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says he’s voting for Sen. Ted Cruz today to help get him into the White House, but there’s intense speculation he’s using Cruz to sideline Donald Trump so that the 2016 nomination goes to his fellow-Wisconsinite, House Speaker Paul Ryan.
The speculation was highlighted during a Monday interview with Donald Trump, when Fox News’ Sean Hannity said Walker recently told “a friend of ours” in a private meeting that he wants Ryan to win the nomination.
That claim intensified concerns among grass-roots Republicans that the establishment will stage a Cruz vs. Trump contested-convention to deliver the nomination to an establishment candidate, such as Ryan.
But Walker is insisting he’s trying to get Cruz into the White House. For example, a pro-Cruz letter arrived in email inboxes Monday afternoon with a statement from Walker making what sounded to be a reference to the #NeverTrump movement.
Let me be very clear: I am casting my [primary] support for Ted Cruz, not against anyone else. That is because I truly believe America needs Ted Cruz.
The same sentiments expressed in the Monday fundraising email were expressed in Walker’s appearance at the Ted Cruz town hall with Megyn Kelly that aired Monday night ahead of the Wisconsin Primary.
On why he endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz, Walker said:
Here in the Midwest we value people who are for something not against something and Ted Cruz is for a better future for my children and all the other children that you see here in the state and across this country.
Host Megyn Kelly pressed Walker who then said that there are three specific reasons.
One is he’s a constitutional conservative and why that matters for me here and a lot of lawmakers that serve here just around the block in the capitol is we want someone who understands, as our founders did, that the Constitution clearly lays the power not in Washington, but in the states and with the people. That’s the first reason. Second reason is we really, the people here know this, they helped us some four years ago battle against that recall. We love someone who is willing to stand up for what they believe in, stick to their guns, even against incredible pressure taking power out of the hands of big government special interests and putting it firmly in the hands of the hardworking taxpayers. And thirdly, we’re very practical people here in midwest, as am I, I want someone who can both win the nomination and defeat Hillary Clinton in November. The only person left in this race who can do that is Ted Cruz.
Walker left the race for the Republican presidential nomination last September. Upon leaving the race Walker encouraged, “other presidential candidates to do the same” before emphasizing a need to winnow the field in order to give voters an “alternative to the frontrunner.” The frontrunner in the race at that time was Trump.
In October Walker told Wisconsin’s 620 WTMJ:
If more Republican [candidates] sat back and say ‘Boy, I can have an impact in narrowing this field so that… a true conservative with a positive message is the viable alternative, maybe it is time to suspend the campaign’… I think you’ll get a viable alternative.
Since then a movement has arisen to adamantly oppose Trump, known by many as the “Never Trump” movement. Despite Walker’s prior comments he appears to be distancing himself from the anyone-but-Trump crowd with his recent statements.
American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp said in a March interview on the Breitbart News Daily radio program, “So for those ‘never Trump’ people, they are really, really doing something that is damaging if they fulfill their pledge they’re making. And they ought to stop making the pledge. What they ought to be is for their person.”
In a March article for National Review Michael Taube concluded that a third party anti-Trump ticket would lead to a Hillary Clinton presidency.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana