Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker—the clear Republican presidential frontrunner according to almost all GOP primary polls, even though he hasn’t announced a 2016 campaign officially yet—dazzled Republicans across Capitol Hill in meetings all day Tuesday.
“I’ve always been impressed with Governor Walker as I am with a number of people in our field. I think we’ve got a good field,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) told Breitbart News’s Alex Swoyer in an interview on Tuesday afternoon. Jordan met Walker to say hello on Tuesday but didn’t have time to stay for the full meeting Walker held with nearly a hundred Republicans. “Look, whoever emerges as the finalist—I think is going to show up, and will contrast with Secretary Clinton. But Governor Walker is impressive, and he has an impressive record in Wisconsin.”
Walker’s staff told Breitbart News in a readout from Walker’s day that he met with about 80 or more mostly House GOP members in the morning, then has meetings in D.C. planned for throughout the day with conservative movement heads and some GOP senators. “He gave a few opening remarks and then took Q&A,” Kirsten Kukowski, Walker’s communications director, said of the morning meeting with House members in an email. “Questions about what he’s done in WI and needing someone who can govern that way in DC, what happened with collective bargaining, foreign policy, energy, immigration, religious liberty.”
Walker, who also met with Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), dazzled the Utah conservative in a one-on-one meeting. An aide to Lee—who has emerged alongside Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as one of two intellectual leaders of the future of the Republican Party—said the Utahan “went in a little doubtful and came away impressed” with Walker, according to RealClearPolitics.
Walker played up his new strongly populist pro-American worker immigration position—which mirrors Sessions’—in the meeting with Lee.
“Walker really downplayed his past views on it and said it was an issue he hadn’t really thought about, especially when he was Milwaukee county executive,” Lee’s aide told RealClearPolitics.
“I was very impressed with his seriousness with respect to the growing threats around the world and the need to demonstrate clarity with respect to American foreign policy,” Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY)—who has endorsed Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in the primary but would “enthusiastically” back Walker should he win the nomination—told Politico.
“What I’m hearing from members is that Scott Walker is a conservative that has a broad base, that he can draw broadly in support from the party, as opposed to particularly a narrower base,” Rep. Steve King (R-IA) added.
Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO) said Walker was “very workmanlike.”
“I think he just wanted to come across as competent and be taken seriously and he did,” Tipton said.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), an immigration hardliner like King, said Walker “is very impressive,” according to The Hill.
“It’s hard to be down-home and sophisticated at the same time, but clearly that’s what he is,” Rohrabacher said. “I’ll wait and see what the deal is, but I’m certainly inclined to lean in his direction now.”
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), who represents a key district in the early state of South Carolina, spoke highly of Walker’s comments to the meeting on his recent trip to Israel.
The Hill quoted Wilson saying that Walker “indicated that all factions he met with in Israel felt like it was utterly irresponsible” for President Barack Obama to conduct the Iran nuclear negotiations he has thus far.
Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) said he is “impressed” by Walker’s “executive capacity” and his gubernatorial record.
“His record of accomplishment is very strong, and I liked his tone when he’s talking about what he’s been able to accomplish in getting reelected and withstanding these tests with the recall,” Smith said.
Even liberal Republicans like Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), who comes from an outside-the-mainstream wing of the GOP and is friends with Speaker John Boehner, spoke highly of Walker.
“He just knocked it out of the park,” Cole said. “I think he [changed some minds]. I think people were awfully impressed with his record… so there were a lot of people predisposed to being supportive, but he certainly didn’t do anything other than strengthen himself.”
Walker, whom Politico quoted as giving a comment to reporters between meetings, praised his fellow Republicans with whom he was meeting on Capitol Hill.
“It was exciting to think about the positive things we could do if we weren’t playing defense,” Walker said. “We could do positive things going forward.”
Walker, on Sean Hannity’s radio program on Monday, said he thinks that America needs strong leadership from a Republican governor. Walker said on Hannity’s show:
I love this country. As frustrated as I am with this president, with our standing here domestically and around the world, I love America. I love the people of this country. I think we can do so much better with the right leadership. I think there’s a compelling case, and I think good, common sense, Republican, reform-minded governors who have led a positive, conservative reform – a comeback – in those states, have shown that if you connect to the people who elected them, you can connect to enough voters to win those states.
Walker also talked with Hannity about his recent trip to Israel:
It was great. Just being connected with the prime minister. In fact, a number of people afterward said they somehow thought we had known each other before because we hit it off well. Obviously they do their research, they knew my comments about Iran and the concerns I had with the president’s proposal. They’d heard about the effort that I had stressed about how the American people want to have a renewed relationship with Israel that’s a positive one, as an ally and not what we say today under President Obama. But probably the most interesting thing for me was not just meeting with the prime minister and leaders in the Knesset and others; it was literally this past Monday being up in a helicopter all day going around the country. From Jerusalem to the Jordan Valley, up to the Golan Heights, we literally landed, got out and saw Syria and could see Lebanon off in the distance. To think about the Islamic State and Hezbollah being that close, then getting in the helicopter and going down to the Sea of Galilee over Nazareth, over to Tel Aviv and then down to Gaza, and getting out again with Israeli soldiers and seeing just where things had occurred even in the last year… You could see how close the threats were… You just can see why they are so concerned.