A longtime Scott Walker adviser anonymously tells National Journal that the now officially announced presidential contender’s strategy will be to first “lock up” conservatives and then move to a more moderate position later on in the campaign.
“You start in Iowa and lock up conservatives, because if you don’t do that, none of the rest matters,” Walker’s adviser reportedly told journalist Tim Alberta. “It’s much easier to move from being a conservative to being a middle-of-the-road moderate later on.”
“In Iowa, you see the beginnings of that,” he added. “He’s capturing that conservative wing first and foremost, and then moving from Iowa to the other states and bringing other voters into the fold.”
The idea, according to the adviser, is that Walker’s strategy on the national playing field will be the same as what has worked in Wisconsin: he will present himself as a blue-collar, down to earth kind of guy who didn’t graduate from college, who appeals to everyone and, ultimately, unites all stripes of the Republican Party.
By way of example, the National Journal points to this ad put out by Walker’s re-election campaign last fall during his battle with Democrat Mary Burke, whose supporters were blasting Walker for signing a bill requiring an ultrasound prior to an abortion. In the ad, Walker states:
I’m pro-life. But there’s no doubt in my mind the decision of whether or not to end a pregnancy is an agonizing one. That’s why I support legislation to increase safety and to provide more information for a woman considering her options. The bill leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor.
The ad has everything anyone could want. It empathizes with women in the predicament of having an unwanted or difficult pregnancy, and it acknowledges without apology that Walker is “pro-life,” yet, in the end, most people who favor abortion rights could say this is a “pro-choice” ad because Walker states his legislation leaves the decision of abortion to a woman and her doctor. Note that Walker says he is concerned about safety, but no mention is made of unborn babies.
Consistent with the anonymous adviser’s note on strategy, Walker appears very pro-life now at the launch of his official campaign as he is also signing into law his state’s 20-week abortion ban.
“He has an altar boy’s appearance,” said veteran Democrat state Sen. Bob Jauch, who has worked closely with Walker. “But Darth Vader writes his policies.”
But can Walker benefit from what appears to be two “personalities” in a presidential race?
According to the Journal:
That answer depends on how Walker navigates the challenge of Iowa. He’s the clear frontrunner in the state, but its socially-conservative electorate has no shortage of alternative options. If Walker refuses to adopt far-right positions, he could quickly bleed support to someone like Ted Cruz, who has been telling his team for months that Walker is “renting our voters in Iowa.” But if Walker remains determined not to be outflanked on the right, his appeal could diminish among moderate voters in New Hampshire and beyond.
Walker has already done some “flipping” during the unofficial days of his campaign. As Breitbart News reported in March, the Wisconsin governor endorsed a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants then, but later on toughened his stance.
Conservatives may accept that Walker has really “flipped” on illegal immigration, but many are not buying his current stance on Common Core.
Walker has had many positions on the controversial education reform, but statements from his press office over the past several months, consistent with his political strategy, always contain the popular buzzword “local” when it comes to education:
Governor Walker wants high standards for our schools and students and believes those standards should be set by school board members, educators, and parents at the local level. The Governor’s budget proposal will set Wisconsin-based standards and assessments, and it ensures no school district in the state is required to use the Common Core standards. This gives local school districts the flexibility to choose the test that best meets the needs of their students.
Recently, however, 58 Wisconsin grassroots leaders showed they were not falling for any more political strategy-speak when it comes to the unpopular education standards. They signed an open letter to their governor, asserting they wanted “no more games on Common Core.”
At issue is the fact that all the while saying he is for “local control” of education, Walker proposed defunding the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced exam in his budget, but the new “Badger Exam” that replaces it will also be aligned with Common Core, making it highly unlikely many local school districts will opt for non-Common Core standards. Walker’s strategy is similar to many other establishment Republican governors.
“He has turned a deaf ear to parents’ pleas to repeal Common Core in Wisconsin by creating a new Common Core aligned Badger Exam that will hold schools to Common Core standards,” parent and grassroots activist Jeffrey Horn tells Breitbart News, adding that the governor’s failure to listen to parents and teachers has “set up an accountability scheme that puts the State at the center of a command economy in Wisconsin.”
“That’s not republican. That’s not small government,” Horn said. “Scott Walker is acting like a managerialist progressive as he assembles, brick by brick, his school-to-work fantasy for Wisconsin.”
With Walker now on the national stage, the Journal asks, “Can he continue to have it both ways?”