Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Walkering His Way to the 2016 Republican Nomination

I'll walk you through it:

"Scott Walker’s political ambitions fostered at Marquette" by Matt Viser, Globe Staff  February 11, 2015

As a student at Marquette University, the future Wisconsin governor and rising Republican star Scott Walker regularly wore a three-piece suit around campus. His demeanor in political science and economics classes matched his buttoned-down wardrobe: well-spoken and polite.

But when it came to student government, Walker developed an aggressive, never-back-down persona that would be familiar to his legions of admirers -- and detractors -- today. A failed bid for student body president his sophomore year was marred by alleged campaign violations and accusations of skulduggery. Newspapers endorsing his opponent mysteriously disappeared from the Milwaukee campus, though blame was never determined.

Those problems seem to follow him.

His education in school politics, it turned out, played the strongest role in shaping Walker’s life.

He withdrew from the Jesuit university in 1990, a year before graduation, and mounted a campaign for state assembly. It was a losing bid that nonetheless launched a career in the public eye. He won his next race for state legislature and never lost another elective bid for office.

Now the one-time college dropout has become a leader in the early field of potential GOP presidential primary contenders, a darling of national conservatives whom Mitt Romney viewed as one of the biggest threats in the emerging Republican primary pack. He’s leading the latest polls in Iowa and has surged to the top tier in New Hampshire, a state that he plans to visit for the first time next month. He’s hiring a campaign staff and this week is leaving on a trade mission to London.


"Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin began a four-day trade mission to London on Monday, making him the latest Republican with potential presidential aspirations to make such a trip to the United Kingdom. Walker is trying to bolster his foreign policy credentials ahead of the 2016 presidential campaign. Walker previously led a trade mission to China and attended a trade-related meeting in Japan in 2013. He has also said he is working on scheduling a trip to Israel. Walker’s London trip follows a visit there last week by Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey. Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana was there in January as part of a 10-day trade mission across Europe. Rick Perry, former governor of Texas; Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas; and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida traveled to the UK last year."

Now we know why he has surged into the top tier. He must have met with Israeli approval. 

Also see: 

Cruzing His Way to the 2016 Republican Nomination
Christie Building Bridge to 2016 Republican Nomination
Perry's Pirouette to the 2016 Republican Nomination
Rand Paul and the Rest of the Republican Also-Rans

When is Rand going to London?

Were Walker to become president, he would be the first person in the Oval Office to lack a college degree since Harry Truman. Walker has called leaving school one of the biggest regrets of his life.

I think we will regret his presidency.

His eventful three years at Marquette, above all, hardened his determination to succeed in politics. Two decades later, he came to national prominence as a governor who went to war with Wisconsin’s public employee unions, despised by liberals but never defeated.

See: Wisconsin Recall Recall


But he began as a wide-eyed college freshman, investigating his peers for illegitimately spending student government funds.

* * *

Walker spent his formative years in Delavan, a town of about 6,000 people in southern Wisconsin. The son of a preacher, he took an early interest in politics.

 “He literally said, ‘Someday I’m going to be president of the United States.‘”

In interviews with nearly a dozen people who knew him at the time, friends describe him as deeply loyal, and deeply religious, someone who never cursed and rarely raised his voice. He and a group of about 10 friends had a Sunday Night Dinner Club, taking turns cooking for the group. He compared himself to Martin Luther King, Jr., since both had fathers who were preachers.

The arrogance of these guys knows no bounds!

Janet Boles, who was one of Walker’s political science professors, said, “It was like teaching Alex P. Keaton,” referring to the conservative character played by Michael J. Fox on the 1980s sitcom “Family Ties.”

Elected as a student senator during his freshman year, Walker quickly made a mark. During Homecoming weekend, a group of more than a dozen students charged the student government account nearly $1,000 for a limousine, flowers, and dinner -- including champagne -- at the Pfister Hotel.

Just two months after he stepped onto campus, Walker was tapped to lead the investigation into his peers, a scandal that became known as “Pfister-gate” and dominated campus headlines at the time.

“Those were stormy waters for a campus,” said Dave Sullivan, who was and remains friends with Walker. “To jump into that and have the fortitude to take that on, a lot of 40 year olds would have a problem with it. He was 18.”

Several student leaders resigned their positions. But even after the money had been repaid, Walker continued pushing to impeach others. Supporters say it showed his doggedness, opponents say it showed vindictiveness.

“It would have been very easy to drop the proceedings and he didn’t,” said Glen Barry, who was among those Walker sought to impeach but was later cleared. “It was grandstanding. It was creating a crisis in order to benefit and gain power.”

Then he will be a perfect president!

Barry and others came up with a derisive nickname for Walker, calling him Niedermeyer, after a character in the movie Animal House who was an overly aggressive ROTC leader.

* * *

Walker has gained national attention through battles with unions in Wisconsin, which began shortly after he took office in 2010 and drew national protests to the Wisconsin State Capitol. But as Walker has fought back, winning an unprecedented recall election in 2012 and another election in 2014, his stature has risen among Republicans.

His incomplete academic resume has not prevented his rise in Wisconsin, and it remains to be seen whether a national audience will hold it against him. Although 12 presidents, including George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, have lacked a college degree, 1948 was the last time a president without a diploma was elected....


Did you see who is backing and supporting him?

And not so fast!

"Giuliani questions Obama’s love of US; Democrats cry foul" by Ken Thomas, Associated Press  February 20, 2015

WASHINGTON — Democrats assailed former mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York Thursday for questioning President Obama’s love of country and urged potential Republican presidential candidates to rebuke him for his comments.

Giuliani said at a New York City event on Wednesday night, ‘‘I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America.’’

I love my country. That's why I did this, and why I'm crushed about failing to prevent all this.

‘‘He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country,’’ said Giuliani, who sought the 2008 GOP presidential nomination. His comments were reported by Politico and the New York Daily News.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said it was time for Republican leaders to ‘‘stop this nonsense.’’

Several probable GOP candidates declined to get involved Thursday. Giuliani, meanwhile, softened his remarks somewhat in an interview, saying he did not mean to question the president’s patriotism.

Well, what did you mean to do?  

All these guys work for corporations and their lobbyists anyway. That's where their love lies.

His comments at the dinner brought to mind a familiar conservative criticism during Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns that he was not proud enough of the United States. During his presidency, a smaller segment falsely claimed that Obama was not born in the United States but rather in his father’s native Kenya. 

I already addressed that today.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Giuliani ‘‘test drove this line of attack during his fleeting 2007 run for the presidency.’’ Asked whether the comments were appropriate, Schultz said he would leave it to those at the event to make that assessment.

The private dinner was attended by Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who is considering a 2016 campaign. Giuliani said that ‘‘with all our flaws we’re the most exceptional country in the world. I’m looking for a presidential candidate who can express that, do that, and carry it out.’’

‘‘And if it’s you, Scott, I’ll endorse you,’’ Giuliani said, addressing Walker. ‘‘And if it’s somebody else, I’ll support somebody else.’’

Walker, asked about the comments in an interview with CNBC, did not directly address whether he agreed with the former mayor.

‘‘The mayor can speak for himself. I’m not going to comment on whether — what the president thinks or not. He can speak for himself as well,’’ Walker said. ‘‘I love America, and I think there are plenty of people, Democrat, Republican, independent, everywhere in between, who love this country.’’

Democrats said the incident reflected poorly on Walker, who has generated early presidential buzz among Republican activists in Iowa, the nation’s first 2016 contest. Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, a Democrat, said he heard a ‘‘deafening silence’’ from Walker and said the governor should ‘‘disassociate himself immediately’’ from the remarks.

Asked about Obama in an interview with Fox News on Thursday, Giuliani said he was not ‘‘questioning his patriotism. He’s a patriot, I’m sure. What I’m saying is, in his rhetoric, I very rarely hear him say the things that I used to hear Ronald Reagan say, the things that I used to hear Bill Clinton say, about how much he loves America.’’ 

Probably too busy catering to Israel.


Hey, actions speak louder than words as it is on to New Hampshire:

"In N.H., Scott Walker stresses humble roots; Wisconsin’s governor introduces himself in first visit to state" by James Pindell, Globe Staff  March 14, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. — As the Republican race for president begins to take shape, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker wrapped up his first visit to New Hampshire on Saturday, implying the difference between himself and former Florida governor Jeb Bush is as much about class as it is about issues.

Speaking in front of nearly 400 of the state’s top Republican activists at an event organized by the New Hampshire Republican Party, Walker’s implication was clear: He comes from a different place than Bush, a son and brother of presidents.

Walker noted that through his father, a preacher, and his grandfather, a machinist, he “didn’t inherit fame or fortune.”

“What I got was something more important,” said Walker, who pointed out that he was wearing a sweater he bought for a dollar at Kohl’s. “What I learned was in America if you work hard and play by the rules, you can do anything.”

In packed schedules of mainly private meetings Friday and Saturday, both Walker and Bush made their way across New Hampshire.

Recent polls suggest the pair are front-runners for the GOP nomination, and their oddly similar schedules show just how intense and personal the contest is getting between them.

Both had one-on-one meetings with Mayor Ted Gatsas of Manchester, former New Hampshire governor John H. Sununu, Republican congressman Frank Guinta, and the conservative publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper as well as interviews at the statewide television station, WMUR.

Bush had two public events compared with Walker’s one, and he appeared more comfortable and freewheeling with voters and reporters than Walker.


Chris Wolfe, a local fund-raiser and activist from Derry, noted another difference between Bush and Walker that was important to him.

“This guy Walker is in the middle of doing things now versus someone who did it 10 years ago,” said Wolfe, who backed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in the presidential primary four years ago.

While Walker stressed his humble roots, Bush was discussing the charge that Walker had flip-flopped on some issues, including immigration.

Speaking briefly to reporters while he signed autographs and posed for photos with supporters, Walker conceded that he had changed his position on immigration but batted down charges that he flip-flopped on other issues.

“We have a strong reputation of keeping our word, and the only major issue out there is immigration,” he said. “We listened to the people. This is one where we listened to the people all across the country, particularly border governors, who see how this president messed that up. That’s an issue where I think people want leaders who are willing to listen to people.”

“The other ones out there are just ridiculous,” he added. “I’ve always been a supporter of right-to-work. . . . I’m pro life. My position is consistent on that.”

On immigration, Walker now generally stresses that he wants to see stronger border security and opposes “amnesty” for undocumented workers who came to the United States illegally. In 2006, as Milwaukee County executive, he backed a bipartisan immigration bill that included a path to citizenship, a measure criticized by opponents as “amnesty.”

Walker and Bush aren’t the only potential presidential candidates in New Hampshire in recent days. Last week, former Texas governor Rick Perry and former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore visited. On Sunday, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas will make stops on the Seacoast and the White Mountains. On Tuesday, former New York governor George Pataki and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina will both speak at a St. Patrick’s Day breakfast in Nashua.


Let the flip-flopping begin:

"Scott Walker drawing notice with shifting stances; Backs positions that may appeal to conservatives" by Matt Viser Globe Staff  April 07, 2015

WASHINGTON — Scott Walker was in favor of a legal pathway for illegal immigrants, then he was against it. And then he was for it again. Maybe.

On so-called Common Core national education standards? He once touted them, now wants to repeal them. On federal ethanol mandates cherished by farmers, particularly in Iowa? Once opposed to them, he now embraces them. His record of shifting stances also applies to abortion and “right to work” legislation that makes it harder for workers to unionize.


As the Wisconsin governor continues to consider running for president, he appears to be following the playbook of Mitt Romney in 2008: Adopt positions that are more conservative than your record, in an attempt to appeal to the Republican base. But the strategy is raising questions about his core convictions, and threatens to take him out of the top tier of candidates in the crucial early-voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

“These flip-flops or kind of maneuvering on issues has put an end to the Scott Walker honeymoon in Iowa,” said Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Iowa Republican Party who now runs the influential website the Iowa Republican. “The thing is, people are looking for consistency and when they look at Walker they’re not getting that today.’’

Walker and his political staff have been responding to charges for weeks that he has switched his positions on a range of issues. His aides did not respond directly to inquiries from the Globe but pointed to previous comments.

“It’s lazy and inaccurate to simply lump all issues into one narrative instead of actually examining the facts,” AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Walker’s Our American Revival PAC, told the Associated Press last month.

I'm doing this best I can on this worthless slop.

Walker, best known for battling public service unions in Wisconsin, leapt into the national spotlight in January when he electrified a gathering of Iowa conservatives by urging them “go big and go bold” and nominate a leader with fresh ideas.

See: Presidential Kingmaker

He has the potential to attract both establishment Republicans who want a nominee with general electorate appeal, and the conservative activists who feel the party has been too quick to nominate moderates.

But as Walker attempts to move further to the right — just as Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, did in 2008 — he’s risking charges that he is changing positions for political expediency.

“It’s an amazing transformation. It was almost Damascus road-like,” said Chip Felkel, a South Carolina political consultant who is unaffiliated with any of the candidates.

“Maybe the feeling in the campaign is that voters are just gullible but I think he’s going to have some accountability to deal with,” he added. “I’d rather deal with someone I disagree with than someone who changes their position just to endear me to them.”

Some of Walker’s potential opponents are already seizing on the issue, trying to make the case that they are more grounded in their beliefs and fueling negative news coverage about Walker. The charges could become more pointed once candidates start airing ads on television and debating one another. Conservative protesters would show up at some Romney events dressed in giant flip-flops.

“I think you need to have a backbone,” former Florida governor Jeb Bush said during a roundtable in Hudson, N.H. Betting that primary voters will value authenticity, Bush has stuck to his support for Common Core national education standards and a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigration, even though both put him out of step with the Republican base.

Walker is governor of a state with a strong history of electing Democrats, and he has successfully faced voters three times over the last five years — including a tough recall election in 2012 fueled by unions angry that he stripped collective bargaining powers for public employees.

Not for cops and firefighters, though, thus dividing that subgroup.

The temptation to now cater to a more conservative Republican electorate is obvious — but like Romney before him, there are inherent risks in taking a blue-state gubernatorial record into some of the country’s reddest primary states.

One of Walker’s most dramatic shifts has come on one of the most controversial issues, immigration.

He once supported a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and in 2013 told the Wausau Daily Herald editorial board in Wisconsin that a such a policy “makes sense.” He said the immigration debate should focus not on border security but on improving legal immigration.

But as he has laid the groundwork for a presidential campaign, Walker has focused far more on border security. He has also admittedly disavowed his earlier position of allowing undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship.

“My view has changed,” he told Fox News in early March. “I’m flat-out saying it. Candidates can say that. Sometimes they don’t.”

But a few weeks later, his view on immigration appeared to have yet changed again.

During a private dinner at the Copper Door Restaurant in Bedford, N.H., Walker told the group that he supported the idea of allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the country and eventually get citizenship. The account, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, was disputed by Walker aides.

Walker has downplayed the idea that he has shifted his positions on any issue besides immigration. But his record is replete with repositioning.

As he courts voters in Iowa, Walker has also grown more accepting of the so-called Renewable Fuel Standard, which mandates that gasoline contain a certain level of ethanol. Ethanol is made from corn, and no state produces more corn than Iowa.

That's an issue that is becoming less important in Iowa.

That appeared to represent a change from his position in 2006, when during an unsuccessful run for governor, Walker took out radio ads critical of legislation that would require gasoline in Wisconsin to include 10 percent ethanol.

“It is clear to me that a big government mandate is not the way to support the farmers of this state,” he said in a statement at the time.

After recent criticism for the change, he said that in 2006 he was only referring to Wisconsin legislation, and not speaking about federal mandates. He has also said he would like to phase out the mandates sometime in the future.

At the same Iowa summit, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas was unapologetic in his opposition to the standard, saying politicians who back the mandate are panderers. “I don’t think Washington should be picking winners and losers,” Cruz said. “I think we should have an all-of-the-above approach that is based on markets.”

In several cases, Walker has shifted along with others in his party. He once chaired a task force that issued a report praising the state’s “rigorous” Common Core education standards, but last year began calling for their repeal.

But he has a lot of company on changing positions on Common Core, which could limit the number of potential rivals willing to criticize him. Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana have also reversed their support for the standards, with Bush remaining as one of the few who still support them.

Walker, who built much of his national profile on challenging public sector unions in Wisconsin, has also shifted positions on right-to-work legislation.

In 2012, while he was battling the public sector unions, Walker said he would do everything he could to prevent right-to-work legislation from becoming law even though he had backed such legislation going back to 1993. “I have no interest in pursuing right-to-work legislation in this state,” he told reporters in Wisconsin. “It’s not going to get to my desk.”

He compared them to terrorists!

But last month, it did come to his desk and he signed it.

Walker has tried to win back some social conservatives who have been skeptical of his positions on abortion issues. Last fall, during a heated gubernatorial reelection campaign, he ran a 30-second ad that noted while he was antiabortion, he also supported legislation that “leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor.”

He also declined at the time to say whether he still believed abortion should be prohibited after 20 weeks, even though he has previously filed legislation doing so and had a 100 percent rating from prolife groups.

But last month, Walker wrote an open letter saying he would sign legislation that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks.

“It’s one thing if you have an honest change of position on an issue that you want to clarify,” said John McLaughlin, a Republican pollster who is unaligned in the 2016 contest. “But when it becomes a series of issues where all the sudden you’re changing positions, it brings into question your character and integrity. . . . Then, you’ve got a serious problem that you’re spending time explaining — and you’re not playing offense.”

I do not think he had any to begin with.


I've put a lot of mileage on today and think I will take a rest for the night.