Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s new populist pro-American worker position on immigration is “absolutely the winning hand” against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a general election should he decide to run for president and wins the GOP primary, GOP pollster KellyAnne Conway of The Polling Company told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.
Conway said of Walker:
The left will try to caricature him as union-busting, as anti-worker. This gives him the opportunity to say ‘if you’re for amnesty, you’re anti-worker. What I am is pro-worker. It is anti government corruption. Having public sector union members expect Wisconsin taxpayers pay 100 percent of their benefits, that wasn’t fair.’ It’s a matter of fairness. Allow him to explain all of that as pro-worker not anti-worker and if he can do that he’ll be fine. Also, this gives him a distinction among a Republican field that’s getting increasingly crowded. This allows him to be seen as a working-class, populist hero—a working class governor who’s a natural populist, it’s just a natural fit. I don’t know if Mitt Romney could have pulled this off. Then you fast forward and you think of this idea versus Hillary Clinton—if she even has anything to say on immigration—this is the winning hand. This is absolutely the winning hand.
Walker this week rolled out a newly strengthened position on immigration, one that focuses on protecting American workers’ job prospects and wages from a massive influx in either legal or illegal immigration. Conway said this wasn’t a flip-flop, but a “natural transformation” on a difficult issue by Walker, in line his “pro-worker, pro-fairness mantra that propelled him to win three elections in four years and propelled him to national recognition in the conservative movement.” Conway has done significant polling on this issue, polling that has been subsequently confirmed by everyone from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) to Gallup and more. Conway said:
2016 will be a process of elimination. Instead of saying which one or two are going to get the most support, the question really is which ones will be left standing a year from now. The one thing I can guarantee you as to who those will be is that they will all be on the right side, on the pro-worker side—the American worker side—of immigration. There will be absolutely nobody who has supported amnesty, there will be nobody talking about a path to citizenship who is a credible presidential nominee. The thing is we’ve been active in these early states really with polling and focus groups. When you look at the numbers from that poll [from last August], that’s nationwide data. This issue is that much more magnified and amplified among Republican primary and caucus-goers in these early states. It is top shelf issue and they see it melding together fairness, opportunity, pro-worker, pro-American, economic stimulus for the local areas.
Conway continued by noting that voters “literally see this as the right way to go” and, while she thinks “Gov. Walker was being dogged a little bit by his past of a Ted Kennedy like immigration plan, it’s an incredibly bold move but an incredibly smart move as well, because it puts him more in line with where Republican primary and caucus voters in early states are on this issue.” She went on to say:
It will be a top three-to-five issue and it will play well in the debate. Marco Rubio would be in second place right now if it were not for his being on the wrong side of this very recently. If you look at the straw poll we did at CPAC and you look at other polling we’ve done since, nationwide and in these early states, we don’t just ask Republican primary voters and caucus goers what are your number one and number two issues. We also ask them do you have any deal breakers and the biggest deal breakers for Republican primary voters right now are if you expanded Medicaid through Obamacare, if they embrace amnesty or comprehensive immigration reform which is the same thing to them, or if they embrace Common Core. The top two—it’s not gay marriage by the way, and it’s not if you’re going to raise taxes—the top deal breakers right now for Republican primary voters are if you expanded Medicaid through Obamacare and you favor a comprehensive immigration reform slash amnesty position on immigration.
For Walker—the guy who took on organized labor in their own backyard and won—Conway argues that this new populist position on immigration is “a natural fit.” She also says that it’s likely to help him not just in the Republican primary but in the general election:
It is one of those rare issues that is a clear winner in both the Republican primaries and caucuses, and then in the general election as well. Our polling shows independents and even many Democrats support newly created jobs going to U.S.-born Americans and legal immigrants. It has bipartisan support because job losses are bipartisan. Support for a pro-American immigration policy has earned bipartisan support because job losses have been bipartisan in nature. In fact, many of these private sector union households have lost their jobs in construction and manufacturing and a lot healthcare based job losses because of Obamacare. Everybody is feeling the pinch either as a direct stakeholder or second hand surrogate and worried about job losses and this is one of the biggest solutions. If I’m looking for a job, why are we giving preference to non-U.S.-born workers?
Conway added that self-identified liberals are the only people among whom there is not a majority of voters who want politicians to have Walker’s position. Democrats, Republicans, independents, and conservatives all support his position. Conway added:
While I’m sure Gov. Walker is not doing this as a Republican primary ploy—it seems like a real change of heart while reviewing the data and thinking through the realities of job losses in his home state, in the rust belt area and indeed across the country—the only people who disagree are liberals. Democrats are on board, Republicans and conservatives are on board so are independents. If you look at the data, only liberals say Obama should go it alone on amnesty and liberals are less likely than Democrats, Republicans and independents pro-American immigration policy. But so what? That’s 18 percent of the country. Whoopee.
Part of the reason why Conway thinks the political class—everyone from the liberal media to the Institutional Left to the establishment right to even some liberal GOP senators—is attacking Walker is because he’s exposing several false inside-the-beltway premises about immigration:
It is a completely and utterly false premise that somehow agreeing to comprehensive immigration reform and supporting Obama’s amnesty will somehow win Republicans back votes. I would point out to all the establishment types descending on Gov. Walker that they’re on the wrong side of the issue for many reasons. Look at what happened in 2014. In 2014, Republicans did not pass comprehensive immigration reform and they won big. They bolstered their majority in the House, won the Senate, several governorships and legislatures. And they improved their rates among Hispanics by 8 percent over Mitt Romney in 2012, so it blew out of the water this false premise that to win Hispanic votes we must go for comprehensive immigration reform and look the other way when Obama does executive amnesty and not try to defund it.
Specifically to Sen. John Thune (R-SD)—who attacked what Walker said without attacking him directly, joining a bandwagon led by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)—Conway noted that what Walker is saying would poll much better than what Thune is saying when it comes to immigration:
If you put Gov. Walker’s statements and Sen. Thune’s statements side-by-side, Walker’s statements are much more popular to the majority of Americans. Why? People are tired of hearing the arrogant and elitist and fantasy of a few billionaires and the quotes like illegal immigrants are doing jobs that Americans won’t do. Americans are saying ‘I want a chance to do those jobs but I want to do them for more than $5 an hour under the table.’ There are many Americans who do want to do those jobs and the vast majority of Americans who do should be given the opportunity to compete for those jobs.
Conway expects that if Walker is elected president, he’ll actually stick to his guns and implement an immigration policy that serves the national interest along the lines of what Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has been calling for:
That’s his track record and if he wants to be a two-term president he will. If he continues emphatically on this track with his change of heart to be pro American worker, he will go ahead and implement it because it’s a job creator. You have Republicans running around saying ‘we’re job creators, we’re job creators.’ Great. This is the ultimate job creator: The ability to allow Americans, which includes by the way high-skilled two and four year college graduates and a lot of these American jobs are not coming back toward manufacturing, construction, retail. For these men and women, the idea that they lost their job and they now have to compete for a replacement job with illegal immigrants who are willing to take $5 an hour under the table. I think he can be a real hero to working men and women and it seems to me that this is a natural expansion of his pro-worker, pro-fairness mantle that has helped him win elections among working class men and women—three elections in four years—but also try to further the national conversation on this issue.