Scott Walker speaks during the South Carolina Freedom Summit in Greenville, South Carolina on May 9, 2015.
Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty

A flip-flop by any other name…

By any fair measure, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has changed course, quite dramatically, on immigration policy. In the not-too-distant past, the Republican governor was quite moderate on the issue. Now, he’s not – Walker not only opposes bipartisan solutions, he’s even begun taking on legal immigration.
This week, Fox News’ Bret Baier pressed Walker for an explanation: “If you’re willing to flip-flop … on such an important issue like this, how can voters be sure that you’re not going to change your position on some other big issues?”
As the Washington Post noted, the Wisconsin Republican responded with his own unique definition of flip-flop.
Walker responded: “Well, actually, there’s not a flip out there.” […]
“A flip would be someone who voted on something and did something different,” Walker said. “These are not votes… I don’t have any impact on immigration as a governor.”
If bonus points were awarded based on creativity, Walker would be in much better shape. But he’s effectively arguing that if he didn’t cast a vote, it can’t count.
And that’s not an especially credible argument.
Look, flip-flops are not the be-all, end-all of a national campaign. Mitt Romney completely overhauled his entire persona and political worldview, more than once, and voters’ interest was limited. Walker’s reversals won’t come close.
But they clearly exist. Walker not only changed direction on immigration, he also reversed course on Common Core standards.
Asked about this, the Wisconsin Republican could simply say he’s learned more about the issues and came to a new conclusion. Voters would either be satisfied or they wouldn’t. But leaning on “these are not votes” is a mistake – presidential candidates don’t have the luxury of redefining “flip-flop” to suit their own purposes.